Only on ABC-7: Western Playland ride gives unexpected fright when part breaks

Western Playland ride breaks with people on

EL PASO - ABC-7 has obtained video of a frightening Fourth of July incident at the Sunland Park amusement park.
This comes on the heels of Monday's scary roller coaster accident at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California.

The incident happened at about 10:30 last Friday night, just after the park's huge Fourth of July fireworks display.

Thirteen-year-old Lily Gaytan, who is in town visiting her cousins this summer, was on the ride "Drop Zone" at Western Playland when it happened.

"We just started going down and then the next thing you know it was like, 'What's going on?'" Gaytan said. "We went down and started shaking and shaking and then bam, everything just exploded."
That explosion was actually an eight-inch diameter plastic wheel exploding. In the video you can hear the debris as it sprayed several people below, but no one was seriously injured.
"There was a girl standing by the ride watching her little brother get on, and when the debris flew everywhere, it hit her in the side of the head," said Gaytan.
Gaytan said she had been on the ride four times earlier in the evening without incident.
"When it jiggled, the harness came undone and it ripped out the back of my hair," she said. "I was frightened."
"All the safety features on the ride did exactly what they're supposed to do," said owner Patrick Thomson, who moved Western Playland from Ascarate Park to Sunland Park eight years ago. "We do daily inspections, weekly inspections, and we have an outside person come in every year too, to certify every ride."
Thomson said accidents can still happen, as was the case this week at Six Flags Magic Mountain outside Los Angeles, where a tree fell on the tracks of a coaster, trapping two dozen people for hours. Last July a woman was killed when she was thrown from the Texas Giant coaster at Six Flags in Arlington.
"You do everything in your power to make sure nothing does happen, but you are dealing with mechanical equipment," Thomson said.
Although only a few of the plastic wheels on the "Drop Zone" were damaged, Thomson is replacing all of them.
"We looked at the other wheels," he said. "I just said, 'You know what, it's better safe than sorry. Let's replace all 30 wheels and at least I'll be able to sleep at night.'"

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