The “ride police” are investigating an incident at the Ventura City County Fair where a teen was left hanging upside down for 20 minutes Wednesday, Aug. 2, after his turn at the bungee jump went awry.
The Ventura City Fire Department had to carry out a technical rescue after the crane that hoisted Roger Rodriguez, 19, high above the ground failed to lower and let him loose.
“The investigation is still open and ongoing,” said Frank Polizzi, public information officer with California Department of Industrial Relations.
Ventura City firefighters had to deploy an aerial ladder truck after Rodriguez was left upside down hanging by his ankles at the end of a bungee cord attached to a metal cage suspended from a crane that was approximately 90-100 feet above the ground.
Two other people were still inside in the cage during the incident.
“There had been a mechanical failure of the system needed to raise him back up, as well as the system that could be used to lower the cage down to the ground, leaving him stranded in midair,” reads a statement from the fire department.
Rodriguez was uninjured and refused to go to the hospital, said the statement.
His rescue was the easier one, more difficult were the two people left in the cage.
Unable to reach the cage with the ladder truck, firefighters used rope systems to rappel another customer and one operator down safely from the cage.
One apparent observer of the incident noted that a drunk lady was yelling at fireman while they were working on the rescue.
“Someone needed to get her under control!” Doreen Green commented on Facebook.
Polizzi said it’s inaccurate to describe the California’s Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) Amusement Ride and Tramway Unit as the “ride police,” though they do have the power to inspect any portable ride as it is being set up or taken down.
“That unit responds to any accident or incident or complaint,” he said.
Polizzi said the investigation can include interviews with ride operators, park owners, and witnesses.
If investigators find any concerns with a ride, they will issue specific requirements.
“Their job is to keep amusement rides safe.”
Ride operators are generally following the rules, but sometimes rides do appear that are not properly permitted. Rides must be inspected and permitted at a fee set by Cal/OSHA that varies from $25 for a small ride to $1,475 for an extra large ride plus a $195/hour inspection fee.
Rodriguez told local media he almost fainted from hanging upside down for so long.
The jump is reportedly operated by Amusement Management International out of Texas.