Ferris Wheel Breaks Down, Stranding 17
RACINE - Imagine the scare for parents: watching helplessly as their children are trapped on a broken Ferris wheel. It happened for three terrifying hours at Racine's Party on the Pavement festival on Saturday afternoon. The winds were so strong, rescuers worried the wheel could tip over.
Seventeen people were trapped on the Ferris wheel. Most of the riders were children.
Tanya Wagenaar spoke to TODAY'S TMJ4 from Illinois. She was on the Ferris wheel with her twin daughters, both 7-years old.
"We know something was wrong. We heard a loud bang," Wagenaar said.
Investigators believe the bang Wagenaar heard was a pin on the Ferris wheel coming loose. Strong winds made things even more precarious.
"The position that it was in, we were afraid the wind would blow it one way or the other," said Captain Charles Ricchio of the Racine Fire Department.
Front-end loaders were brought in to hold the wheel in place. Meanwhile, Wagenaar was telling her children it would be OK.
"Just pray and keep your head up and think positive thoughts. So we thought about their birthday parties that we're having here at the house tomorrow," Wagenaar said.
Rescuers brought blankets for the children to prevent hypothermia. After a 3-hour rescue, firefighters were able to bring all the children to safety. Now, parents want to know what went wrong.
"The winds were 45 to 50 miles per hour. I don't think that Ferris wheel should have been in place, nor should have been running today," Wagenaar said.
Inspectors were already examining the Ferris wheel on Saturday night. None of the 17 people on the Ferris wheel received any injuries.
The festival did continue after the situation was resolved.