More than a dozen people were stuck on SeaWorld’s gondola ride over Mission Bay on Monday evening after a strong gust of wind caused the ride to stop, the park said.
The ride stopped around 7:20 p.m. and 16 people, nine adults and seven children, were trapped on the Bayride Skyride, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokesman Jose Ysea said.
All passengers were rescued shortly before 11 p.m., nearly four hours after the ride stopped. The first two passengers were rescued around 9 p.m., Ysea said.
“The slowest was getting to the (victims),” he said.
The height of the gondolas makes it a particularly dangerous rescue but firefighters and lifeguards practiced the rescue with SeaWorld at least twice a year, he said.
“They know what they’re doing, they’ve done it before,” Ysea said. “It’s just a matter of shimmying up the pole and then moving across the cables to get to the gondolas and putting the harnesses on the passengers and lowering them down to a lifeguard boat who are waiting for them underneath.”
SeaWorld said all the passengers were safe and the park was in contact with them through the gondola’s intercom system. The malfunction was blamed on “an unusual gust of significant wind.” The guests were stuck on five gondolas, the park said.
“Once our guests are cared for, we will conduct a thorough inspection of the ride prior to re-opening,” SeaWorld said in a statement. “We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused the guests.”
The temperature in Mission Bay around 7:30 p.m. was around 42 degrees. SeaWorld said the gondolas were equipped with blankets.
Updated at 11:30 p.m. Feb. 17, 2019.