Indianapolis Zoo ride remains closed after malfunction; stranded family talks about rescue

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 18, 2015)—The Skyline ride at the Indianapolis Zoo will remain closed after a malfunction Thursday caused three cars to become stuck 35 feet above the ground.

State Homeland Security has been at the site for an initial inspection. Engineers from the ride’s developer, Chance Rides, have also started looking into the matter. They were able to get the gondola back into the loading station and are trying to find out what caused a breaker to trip and shut down the ride. Zoo officials said the ride would remain closed until Skyline passes an inspection.

On Thursday, Indianapolis Fire Department officials said 10 people, including three children were rescued. The incident occurred around 11:40 a.m., but IFD wasn’t called to the scene until 30 minutes later as zoo workers attempted to reset the ride.

“We were probably maybe 30, 35 feet in the air and it looked as if they were loading up another car … and it just stopped,” Bill Raber said.

Raber was in the highest gondola with his wife, daughter and 19-month-old son. His sister, brother-in-law and nieces were trapped as well. It took two hours to get them all down.

“It was hot, but not as hot as it could be probably, there was a lot of breeze and actually the only thing we were really worried about was the storm that was coming in,” Raber said.

Firefighters were able to get everyone down safely before the storm rolled in. Raber said he felt safe the entire time.

“It was really smooth. I was kind of nervous about it at first but it actually was really good, what they did,” Raber said.

Zoo officials said a breaker tripped inside a gondola motor, triggering an error code and bringing the gondola to a stop.

According to the zoo’s website, the 8-minute ride reaches heights of up to 50 feet in the air. The three gondolas were stuck approximately 35 feet high.

Officials said 75 people with the fire department were trained last year on the Skyline ride in the event of a rescue.

“The safety of our guests, staff and animals is the Zoo’s number one priority,” said zoo officials in a statement. “The Skyline is equipped with multiple safety mechanisms and the staff receives extensive safety training. The Skyline passed its yearly state inspection last month.”

Photo from incident on Oct. 12, 2014
Photo from incident on Oct. 12, 2014

Last October, six riders were rescued after two cars stopped about 35 feet in the air. The ride was inspected in May and reopened after Memorial Day.

No one was injured in either incident.



Data pix.

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