Bystanders who helped falling teen at Great Escape discuss their heroics

QUEENSBURY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – NEWS10 ABC is learning more about how a teen was able to get to safety after getting stuck on a ride at Six Flags Great Escape.

Sunday was just another day here at Great Escape, but the Sky Ride was closed.

Last night a teenage girl got stuck on the gondola style ride that slowly moves through the park.

Now she has a few bystanders to thank for getting her down.

Matthew Howard, Sr. and his daughter Leeann Winchell were a couple of individuals who helped the girl get to safety.

As they were about to leave Great Escape with their family they heard a scream.

That’s when they turned around and looked up and found the young teenager hanging from a chair on the Sky Ride by just her neck and hands.

Howard was in shock by what he saw. He gave his phone to his son and joined his daughter, Leeann, who had been following the girl from below.

Winchell said the girl’s brother was in the chair with her and was crying for help.

“He was holding onto her for dear life screaming and crying like don’t let her die, somebody help her, I can’t hold on much longer,” Winchell said.

She and her dad said they couldn’t just stand there and not do anything.

The ride finally stopped near a tree with lots of branches. They did what they could to get them out of the way. Security at the park asked everyone to move back, but Winchell wasn’t going anywhere.

“No, I’m not moving like if this girl falls I’m going to be right here so she has something to land on. I’m going to do everything, I don’t know what I’m going to do but I’m going to do whatever I can to save this little girl’s life,” Winchell said.

So, they created a small human safety net and Howard told the girl that he’d catch her.

“I looked right up to her and I said honey, please let go, I promise I’ll catch you,” Howard said.

The teen wiggled herself loose and fell right on top of him and Winchell.

“God dropped an angel and I caught her,” Howard said.

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office says the 14-year-old victim is in stable condition, but remains at Albany Medical Center.

Howard had some minor shoulder and rib pain, but said he and his daughter were able to visit the girl today.

“Looking at her today knowing she was alright because of me and my daughter, made it worth it,” Howard said. “I did the right thing. I did what I was supposed to do and that was to make sure this little girl lived.”

“It’s amazing you know I mean as I keep saying too God put us in the right place at the right time, you know we were able to do something good and we saved a child’s life,” Winchell said.

Officials at Great Escape say there wasn’t any malfunction with the ride.

The State Department of Labor cleared it for operation, but the park is keeping it closed while they do an internal review.

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