Passenger Speaks Out After Rescue From Upside-Down Amusement Park Ride

Photo By: Portland Fire and Rescue

On Friday, June 14, a typical day of fun at Oaks Amusement Park in Portland, Oregon, took a terrifying turn when the AtmosFEAR ride malfunctioned, leaving multiple riders suspended upside down at a height of 50 feet.

According to Portland Fire and Rescue, approximately 30 people had to be rescued after the ride stopped at its apex, trapping passengers in a 360-degree setting for over 20 minutes.

An 18-year-old rider, Jordan Harding, recently spoke to PEOPLE about her terrifying experience. Harding, who was on the ride with her boyfriend, described the overwhelming fear that hit her as soon as she realized they were stuck.

“After about 15 seconds of being upside down, I realized we were stuck. I thought we were going to die there. My boyfriend was scared too,” she told the outlet.

She observed that the other passengers stuck with her were younger, as Portland Public Schools were “holding their eighth-grade celebration there.” Despite her own fear, Harding noted that the children handled the situation surprisingly well.

Harding claims that the ride operators hesitated a few seconds before notifying park maintenance because they believed the ride might naturally swing back down on its own.

However, her anxiety intensified when the park announced its closure and the arrival of the fire department, causing Harding’s fear to turn into full-blown panic.

“I remember thinking that I was going to die like that and miss out on so many major things that I had hoped to experience,” she said.

Harding later learned that the fire department planned to rescue them using ropes, but park workers managed to push the ride hard enough to bring it back down safely. She now thinks the ride should be taken out of the park to prevent such incidents in the future.

While she doesn’t blame Oaks Amusement Park entirely, she believes they should do more than offer a refund and a free ticket.

“I would not go on the ride again or back to the park just because of the emotional distress of it all,” she said. “I do feel lucky to be alive. When you’re about to lose your life you gain a new outlook on life allowing you to enjoy every day a little more.”

The AtmosFEAR ride, which has been in operation since 2021 without any issues, is now closed. The park is working with the ride’s maker and safety inspectors to find out what went wrong.