Dozens Rescued After Sky Ride Breaks Down at Southwick's Zoo in Mendon

The incident was taking place on a hot summer day, with temperatures above 90 across much of the region

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The Skyfari sky ride at Southwick's Zoo in Mendon, Massachusetts, was stuck Friday afternoon, trapping dozens of people in the air.

Betsey Brewer, one of the family owners at the zoo, said everything started when employees noticed a small oil leak and halted the ride as a precaution.

"We decided it would be best if we stopped the ride and evacuated, just to be safe," she said.

The zoo has an electric lift and staff is trained to make rescues if necessary, Brewer said. While her employees worked, emergency crews were also called in to help. Most riders were rescued within 45 minutes, but some who were up higher had to wait around an hour and a half, she said.

Sebastian Paldan-Cottrelo and his grandfather Russell Carter were both on the ride at the time. Sebastian said he was enjoying the ride over the tortoises until the ride stopped and he realized they were stuck, and then it got "crazy."

"I was stuck there for a long time, I was, a long time."

Sebastian told reporters that he was getting hot up in the air, but a passerby saw their predicament and found someone tall enough to throw a bottle of water up to them as they waited.

Carter added that during the breakdown and both rescue staff from the zoo and emergency responders kept calm and collected.

"Never felt in danger at all," Carter said.

Mendon Fire Chief Bill Kessler said crews from multiple departments responded to help with the tech rescue. They rescued 12 adults and seven children from the ride. No injuries have been reported.

The zoo didn't have any more immediate comment.

The incident was taking place on a hot summer day, with temperatures above 90 across much of the region.

The sky ride is one of several attractions at the zoo. It offers "a bird’s eye view of the African Plains, Deer Forest, chimpanzees, alligator, and more," according to the zoo's website. The ride will remain shut down until it is fully repaired.

Today: Hot, increasing PM breeze, humidity and slight chance of an isolated PM storm. Highs in the 90s. Tonight: Clouds fill in, chance shower/thunder, muggy. Lows in the 70s. Saturday: Recurring showers/thunder, very humid. Highs in the 80s. Sunday & Fourth of July: Much less humid, fair. Highs in the 80s.

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