SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Sixteen people seated in five gondolas became trapped on the Bayside Skyride over the frigid waters of Mission Bay at SeaWorld San Diego Monday night, reports the CBS affiliate there, KFMB-TV. All were safe after a four-hour rescue operation.
The San Diego Fire Department said an infant and a partially paralyzed person who recently suffered a stroke were among those in the gondolas.
Firefighters were assisted by lifeguards in the water below the aerial tram during the rescue efforts. The lifeguards were said to have used at least two boats.
The rescue operation began at roughly 7:15 p.m. local time. At about 11:15 p.m., the fire department tweeted an update:
SEAWORLD RESCUE UPDATE: All 16 persons trapped in the gondola ride are safe on the ground. Great job by our Technical Rescue Team firefighters, @SDLifeguards & support staff. pic.twitter.com/tQvF9djg9U
— SDFD (@SDFD) February 19, 2019
The department said the passengers were being evaluated by medical crews when they were brought to a dock.
SeaWorld said each gondola was equipped with blankets and the park was in contact with the passengers via intercom, informing them of evacuation procedures among other things.
The San Diego Fire Department told KFMB high winds appear to have caused the problem with the ride. SeaWorld pointed directly at Mother Nature, saying in a statement that “an unusual gust of significant wind” was the culprit, adding that, “We will conduct a thorough inspection of the ride prior to re-opening.”
KFMB meteorologist Shawn Styles said the water temperature in Mission Bay was around 58 to 59 degrees. The National Weather Service said the air temperature in San Diego at 10 p.m. was 46 degrees.