San Diego

Strong Winds Whip San Diego Safari Park Balloon Ride, Terrifying Guests

Witnesses said a mother and child were on board at the time

The San Diego winter storm caused panic at the San Diego Safari Park in Escondido Monday. 

Strong winds whipped the popular Balloon Safari ride as women and children were tossed around inside, according to a witness. 

In the video, children watching it happen can be heard crying and screaming, "What is happening to the balloon?" 

Jordan Lapidot of Escondido captured the scary ordeal on her cell phone and posted it to Facebook. 

"There were some points when the basket was completely sideways," said Lapidot. "I have this image in my mind of this guy just grabbing the outside of the cage as they get thrown."

During a winter storm, a balloon safari ride was whipped around in the wind, tossing around its passengers.

According to Lapidot, it happened around 3:50 p.m. Monday. She said it was a sunny day when suddenly strong, freezing winds and rain came in unexpectedly. 

"It was a crazy storm," said Lapidot. "We were not expecting that. The cables were groaning. It was scary." 

Lapidot said she visits the park frequently with her children, 5-year-old Keegan, and baby Gigi. She added the balloon ride is usually shut down when the winds are strong, but on this day there was no warning. 

"People were screaming and children were crying," Lapidot said on Tuesday. 

She estimated there were about eight to 10 people, including children, on the ride during the incident. 

"I was really scary," added Keegan. 

Despite the ride operators doing all they could, Lapidot said it took over 10 minutes to safely get the people down on the ground. 

"I'm sure the children on the ride are going to be traumatized for life," she added. 

Ride operators pulled the giant cable the balloon is attached to until the passengers were safe. Lapidot said she did not believe anyone was injured in the incident. 

NBC 7 reached out to the San Diego Safari Park for comment:

Yesterday afternoon, weather at the Safari Park was clear until late afternoon when a localized storm moved in.  As the sudden storm arrived and winds picked up, some operations at the Park, like Balloon Safari and Flightline were closed to public use.

That same night, more than a dozen guests were stuck on a gondola lift ride at SeaWorld San Diego for nearly five hours before rescue crews were able to lower all of them to safety.

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