Wildlife caused roller coaster scare, official says

/ Source: The Associated Press

A bird or some other animal apparently is to blame for the power outage that shut down a roller coaster and stranded 12 people hanging upside down 150 feet above the ground, a utility spokesman said Tuesday.

The riders were at the top of a loop on the X-Coaster at Magic Springs & Crystal Falls when the power failed Saturday.

They returned safely to the ground after about 30 minutes when park employees were able to start a backup generator, said Magic Springs General Manager Dan Aylward. One man was taken to a hospital after complaining of neck and head pain.

Crews inspected the power lines leading to the theme park and found burn marks on two insulators connecting wires to poles, said Mark Hunt, general manager of customer service for Entergy Arkansas in the Hot Springs area.

He said the marks indicated a bird or another animal touched the insulators simultaneously, causing a short circuit and blowing the fuse connecting the park to the electrical service.

"When the crews saw the burn marks, it was pretty easy to spot the cause of the outage," Hunt said. "The main thing is we are trying to prevent this from happening again. Our crews are doing animal-mitigation work to prevent it."