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Human Interest

Authorities Say Teen Girl’s Actions May Be to Blame for Six Flags Gondola Fall Caught on Video

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A 14-year-old girl’s actions may have caused her to fall from a slow-moving amusement park ride on Saturday, according to authorities.

Warren County Sheriff’s Lt. Steven Stockdale told PEOPLE that “human error” on the part of the teen may have caused her to slip under the metal restraining bar on the Sky Ride gondola at Six Flags Great Escape in Queensbury, New York.

“We’ve investigated the ride itself and formulated that it was in proper working order,” Stockdale said. “Human error is one of the things we’re looking into.”

According to Stockdale, the girl’s family has declined requests for her to be interviewed by police. Without a personal account from the teen — and due to the fact that the ride was deemed in working order — authorities believe that the incident was caused by the rider. An investigation is ongoing.

“It could have been a catastrophe,” said Stockdale, who added that if she had fallen 20 yards in either direction it “would have been a lot worse,” as she would have landed on a roof covering or in shallow water.

“She’s a very lucky young lady,” said Stockdale.

Some witnesses speculated that she may have been trying to kick trees as the ride passed them, but Stockdale said that did not appear to be the case. She was riding with her younger brother when the incident occurred. 

Video captured at the scene showed the girl dangling from the two-person gondola as park guests gather below her. The girl’s neck initially appeared to be stuck in the gondola, but she was able to untangle herself before dropping 25 feet and being caught by bystanders.

As she began to drop, someone in the crowd that had gathered below her can be heard yelling, “We’ll catch you honey!”

The footage shows her hitting a tree as she fell, but cheers erupt as the girl is caught. Emergency medical services were sent to the scene, and she was transported to a local hospital, before being transported by helicopter to a hospital. 

She was released Monday afternoon from Albany Medical Center, where she was treated for unspecified injuries.

Authorities said a 47-year-old man was also hospitalized when he hurt his back trying to catch the girl, but has since been released.

Park officials tell PEOPLE the ride remains closed Tuesday, pending an internal review.

“Sunday morning, the NY State Department of Labor cleared the ride for operation. As the safety of our guests and team members is our top priority, and out of an abundance of caution, the ride will remain closed while we conduct a thorough internal review,” a spokesperson said in a statement.