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UPDATE: Ninja coaster remains closed as officials investigate fallen tree that left riders stranded

Posted: July 8, 2014 1:40 p.m.
Updated: July 8, 2014 7:10 p.m.

This still from a live stream of KTLA's news helicopter footage shows stranded riders on the Ninja roller coaster as emergency crews work to free them safely at Six Flags Magic Mountain on Monday.

 

 

A state public safety agency wants to know what made a tree fall on the Ninja roller coaster ride at Six Flags Magic Mountain, derailing the first car and injuring two occupants.

“It was a pine tree, between 30 and 40 feet long, that fell over,” Peter Melton, a spokesman for California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, said Tuesday. “It fell over and hit the first car and derailed it.”

The accident late Monday afternoon halted the Ninja train and ripped the first car off the track, leaving all 22 occupants stranded some 20 to 30 feet in the air and the first car dangling off the track. It took nearly three hours to evacuate all occupants.

“We’re looking into the condition of the tree,” Melton said. “We want to know what made the tree fall down.”

“The California division (Cal/OSHA) has asked Magic Mountain to get a certified arborist to check the tree,” he said. “The tree’s health would be part of that condition.”

The ride will not reopen without the permission of Cal/OSHA, Melton said.

The division, part of the state’s Industrial Relations branch, sets regulations for the operation of permanently-fixed roller coasters in the state.

Two young men sitting in the front car of the ride suffered minor injuries when the tree crashed down on the track, L.A. County Fire Department Inspector Rick Flores said at the scene Monday.

“Of the 22 guests safely evacuated from the Ninja roller coaster, four were transported for precautionary measures — all have been treated and released,” park spokeswoman Sue Carpenter said in an official statement Tuesday.

Ninja recently turned 26 years old, first opening at the amusement park in 1988.

Flores said the nearby muddy, shrub-covered terrain complicated rescue efforts.

“It wasn’t a very easily accessible area of the park at that part of the roller coaster,” he said. “It was a little muddy at the side of a hill with shrubbery around there. So it took a little longer.”

jholt@signalscv.com

661-287-5527

on Twitter @jamesarthurholt

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