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Portland Oaks Park ride malfunction leaves 28 stuck upside down

People on the ride “AtmosFear” said they were stuck upside down for about 25 to 30 minutes, and one was hospitalized. AtmosFear will be closed until further notice.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland firefighters rescued dozens of people trapped upside down on a ride at Oaks Park Friday afternoon. Riders on the AtmosFEAR ride said they were stuck for around 25 to 30 minutes, but it felt like hours. 

Oaks Park said 28 riders were suspended upside down when the ride stopped around 2:55 p.m. Staff immediately initiated emergency procedures and called 911. 

Around 3:25 p.m., Portland Fire and Rescue (PF&R) said the ride had been manually lowered, and all the riders were evacuated and medically evaluated.  

“One rider with pre-existing medical conditions was transported to the hospital for further evaluation, out of an abundance of caution,” Oaks Park said. 

Portland teens Daniel Allen and Jordan Harding were at Oaks Park celebrating their high school graduation. AtmosFEAR was the first ride they went on when they arrived. 

“I was excited to go on,” Allen said. “When you get stuck up there, I don’t think you’re so excited anymore.”

The two were among the people left dangling upside down as the ride malfunctioned. AtmosFEAR is a black-and-blue pendulum that swings from side to side and is intended to stop upside down, but only momentarily before swinging back to its resting position. 

Harding said when they stayed upside down for longer than a few seconds, they realized something was wrong. 

“We were just freaking out,” Harding said. “People were crying. They were just putting into the universe what they wanted to say for their last words.”

“I’m not even religious, and I said a prayer. I didn’t think I was going to live to see right now,” she added. 

The teens said hanging upside down for that long was a hard and terrifying experience.

“That position is just so uncomfortable physically,” Harding said. “25 minutes. My entire waist below was asleep.”

She said she hugged the firefighter who helped her get off the ride when she was rescued.

“Such a relieving feeling,” she said. “I’m standing on the ground right now. There was a moment not that long ago that I didn’t think that would happen again.” 

Oaks Park said the ride has been in operation since 2021 and has not had an incident until now. The ride will remain closed until further notice. 

PF&R said in a statement Friday evening that one person, who has not been identified, was transported to a hospital for observation “out of an abundance of caution.”

Meanwhile, Oaks Park said, “We wish to express our deepest appreciation to the first responders and our staff for taking prompt action, leading to a positive outcome today, and to the rest of the park guests who swiftly followed directions to vacate the park to make way for the emergency responders to attend to the situation. Most of all, we are thankful that the riders are safe and with their families.”

The park said it will work with the manufacturer and state inspectors to identify what caused it to stop. 

“Any park guest who had their visit cut short today will be extended a refund or opportunity to reschedule their visit,” Oaks Park added. 

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