SANDUSKY, Ohio - The popular WindSeeker ride at Cedar Point amusement park near Cleveland and five sister theme parks across North America were temporarily shut down last year after a series of malfunctions.
An investigation conducted by KSHB's Scripps sister station in Cleveland, WEWS, found inspection reports in Ohio and California that detailed safety issues before the rides even started up. And despite being approved by state inspectors as safe to operate,the "WindSeeker" left riders stranded in the air for hours at amusement parks in three states.
In June 2012 at Cedar Point in Sandusky, the ride came to a sudden stop, stranding 29 riders 150 feet above ground.
In July 2012, at Carowinds in South Carolina , the same ride stranded 25 more riders for almost three hours.
In September 2012, at Knott's Berry Farm outside Los Angeles, the WindSeeker malfunctioned twice, leaving passengers trapped in their seats for hours .
A review of state inspection reports in Ohio and California found inspectors flagged safety issues before the rides even opened up.
At Cedar Point in May 2012, Ohio inspectors found missing bolts that required installation, a loose nut that needed tightening and lap bar lights that required repair.
In August 2012 in California, inspectors found a "lack of compliance" with technical standards and "lack of due diligence" by Cedar Fair, the parent company .
Inspection records show it required 17 separate inspections over 11 days to bring the California ride up to safety standards. Inspectors noted that "was an exceptional amount of time."
As a result, Cedar Fair announced it would temporarily close the WindSeeker ride at each of the six parks where it had been installed. The company said the rides would remain closed until "an internal review" was completed.
A 2012 statement from Cedar Fair said "that on each occasion, maintenance teams followed safety procedures and brought passengers safely from the top of the tower to the ground. The company said no one was injured during any of the malfunctions and riders were slowly lowered to the ground.
[Read the inspection report from King's Island in Ohio here .]
A spokeswoman for Worlds of Fun, which is owned by Cedar Fair, said on Aug. 31 that all the WindSeeker rides have since reopened, except for the one at Knott's Berry Farm, which will be moved to Kansas City to become the SteelHawk next season.