KEMAH, Texas - Terry Mann and his 7-year-old son were hoping for a thrill as they buckled into the Aviator ride at the Kemah Boardwalk. But as it started spinning, Mann said he heard something that made him fear they wouldn't make it off alive.
"All of a sudden you started hearing glass falling to the ground and what sounded like metal," said Mann.
He said he also saw pieces fall from the center column of the ride. Mann said the ride operator pulled the emergency brake, jolting the seats full of adults and children.
"We were hanging in the air for you know five or 10 minutes, probably 30 or 40 feet up in the air," said Mann.
He tried to comfort his son and pulled out his cell phone camera to capture the scene.
In the video you can hear Mann saying, "Hopefully we can get down and touch the ground. We've got the fire trucks here, a little trauma and triage everybody's watching."
He said it felt like forever, but within 10 minutes, a crew started slowly lowering the ride to the ground with parts still falling. On the cell video Mann said, "Thank God, we prayed and prayed and at least we've gotten down to about 15 feet."
Mann said eventually everyone made it safely to the ground, but he still doesn't understand how this happened.
Local 2 contacted the Kemah Boardwalk and the general manager Mark Kane issued this statement: "Yesterday, the Aviator ride experienced a light system failure while operating. We're examining all aspects of the ride to determine the cause. Anytime an incident like this occurs, our primary concern is always for the safety of our guests and employees. Our rides, maintenance and safety teams followed safety procedures to get all guests off the ride. No injuries were reported."
Kane said all rides are inspected daily and they are in contact with the ride manufacturer to determine the cause of the breakdown.
But for Mann the terrifying experience has left a lasting impression on his son, who is now having nightmares.
"I don't really believe he'll go on a ride like that ever again," said Mann. "It was pretty traumatic for him."
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