Top of the world, Ma!

Ferris wheels are odd attractions in that they always seem equal parts relaxing and creepy. It’s certainly nice to enjoy a slow ride that climaxes in a spectacular view of your surroundings, but this is also all while dangling in a metal box from a relatively flimsy-looking structure.

Even if everything holds together, there’s always a fear of the thing just stopping with you stuck at the very top. That’s just what happened at the Family Ai-Land You amusement park in Yubetsu, Hokkaido. However, rather than a mechanical failure, it was human error that led to a mother and her two kids getting stuck at the top.

At about 3:45 p.m. on 25 September, the park staff were getting ready to wrap it up for the day and started shutting down all the equipment, including the Ferris wheel. However, they seemed to have lost track of the woman in her 30s and two children under the age of ten who were left suspended at a height of about 30 meters (98 feet).

▼ A news report showing the Ferris wheel in question

After being stuck in the stationary gondola for about ten minutes panic began to set in, but luckily another family member was waiting for them in the parking lot at the time. The mother made a call to that person who quickly notified the amusement park office about it.

All three were unharmed but say they suffered mental anguish from the ordeal. Operation of Family Ai-Land You is outsourced to a private company by the Yubetsu city government, but Mayor Tomoyuki Karita issued an apology on the town’s website that reads: “I would like to express my deepest apologies to the family who suffered a great deal of stress from the feat and anxiety of their time left behind. I would also ask that the management take the necessary steps to prevent this from happening again and we will continue to provide thorough guidance.”

It was a nightmare situation for a lot of people that luckily ended safely. Readers of the news, however, were surprised that such a thing could happen when it was just a matter of checking to see that all the gondolas were empty.

“I’m glad they got out safely. It’s getting cold in Hokkaido now, and it could have been really bad if they were in there too long.”
“I would have been terrified for those ten minutes.”
“It’s understandable that staff might not remember someone’s on the ride, but all they have to do is let it go around one time before shutting it down to confirm.”
“I’m really scared of this myself. I think it’s easy to happen when things are busy.”
“Isn’t making sure everyone is on and off the ride the main job of Ferris wheel operators?”
“Sometimes TV shows and movies use this situation as a joke, but the reality is not funny at all.”
“Just put some sensors on there. It’s not hard.”
“Can you imagine watching all the lights turn off and music shut down while you’re still in the wheel?”
“I kind of feel a little bad for the one person who had to wait in the parking lot.”

It was also a stroke of luck that all this happened in an age where everyone carries a phone around in their pocket. As some of the readers suggested, this all took place towards the north end of Hokkaido which currently sees overnight temperatures approaching zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) so things could have gotten much worse for them had they been stuck for too long.

But in an age where everyone carries a phone around in their pocket, it doesn’t seem like such a technological hurdle to install something to indicate a person is inside a gondola. Maybe one of those new-fangled lightbulbs or something?

Source: Hokkaido News UHB, My Game News Flash
Top image: ©SoraNews24
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