Matthew Howard Sr. was about to leave the Six Flags Great Escape when he noticed something unusual — a young girl dangling from one of the rides.
The 47-year-old father, who was at the Queensbury, New York amusement park with his 21-year-old daughter Leeann Winchell, sprang into action — running towards the girl, who got stuck on the slow-moving “Sky Ride,” which is described as a “roundtrip ski-lift style gondola ride” on the park’s website.
“I couldn’t let that little girl die,” Howard told the Associated Press. “No one wants to put himself underneath a body like that, but I couldn’t stand by and watch.”
Howard and his daughter, along with a few other parkgoers and employees, positioned themselves under the girl, who was hanging from the two-person pod. “I said: ‘It’s OK! It’s OK to let go, I’ll catch you, honey,'” Howard recalled to the AP.
He took on the brunt of her fall and tumbled to the ground, but was still able to catch the girl, who has not been identified yet. Howard was hospitalized with a minor back injury and later released from the hospital.
On Sunday, he visited the girl at the hospital with Winchell. They said she was in good spirits.
Six Flags said Sunday that the ride is still shutdown for review despite clearance from the New York State department of Labor.
“We are in the process of gathering more information,” Six Flags Queensbury said in a statement. “The safety and security of our guests is our top priority and our thoughts and prayers are with our guest and her family.”