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Busch Gardens: Collar that came loose during Tempesto isn’t a safety issue

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WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) – The newest ride at Busch Gardens promises twists and turns, but one woman says her granddaughter’s thrill turned into a real-life scare.

“She was scared to death. I was horrified,” Dona Gayle told News 8’s sister station WAVY.

At 63 mph, the gravity-defying coaster goes up 154 feet in the air. Promotional video from the Busch Gardens YouTube page shows the Tempesto. It opened just three months ago.

“There was a lot of hype about it. It’s supposed to be one of the most thrilling rides there,” Gayle said. “My granddaughter had ridden it a few times before with no incident.”

However, Gayle said when her 17-year-old granddaughter Madison rode the Tempesto on Monday, June 29 something went wrong.

“She said when she was on the ride, the harness strap came loose and it was not protecting her upper body at all,” Gayle told News 8’s sister station WAVY. “[It happened] when it went into the upside down loop.”

Gayle said when the ride stopped, Madison told the attendants. “They shut it down for a few minutes, but about 15 minutes later they started it again,” she said.

What was even more frustrating for Gayle was that she called the park, trying to talk to someone in customer service about what happened, but never got a call back. So, she contacted 10 On Your Side.

“I feel like somebody could get hurt on the ride or killed,” Gayle said.

In response to questions about Gayle’s claim, Busch Gardens Spokesman Kevin Crossett would only send the following statement:

The safety of park guests and team members is our highest priority and we are very proud of our exceptional safety record. Safety and comfort are factors that we take extremely seriously for all of our rides.

Tempesto’s rider safety restraint system functioned properly and this guest was secure at all times. The ride’s safety restraint system was designed by the ride’s manufacturer and meets industry standards. The collar that came loose was added to the ride at our request for guest comfort, not safety.

As Busch Gardens annual pass holders, Gayle said her family frequents the park. However, Madison has not been back on Tempesto since the collar came loose. Gayle said she thinks her granddaughter will ride the roller coaster again, if the park makes some changes.

When News 8’s sister station WAVY asked Crossett if the park will change anything on the ride after this incident, he referred to the aforementioned statement.

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