Police rescue NYC cable car passengers - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

Police rescue NYC cable car passengers

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Posted: Wednesday, April 19, 2006 5:58 am | Updated: 3:40 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

NEW YORK - Working through the night, police on Wednesday plucked the last of 69 people stranded up to 12 hours in two cable cars that got stuck after a power failure. No injuries were reported.

The passengers became stranded around 5:15 p.m. Tuesday. Passengers in the car dangling above the East River were plucked one by one and hoisted onto a gondola, while those in the second car, which got stuck over Manhattan, were removed in an crane and bucket.

At least a dozen passengers were school-age children or babies. Police delivered food, water and diapers to the passengers. A young passenger described the mood in his car as almost festive, with people singing and telling jokes.

The boy's mother, Robbyn Maier said her 12-year-old son, Dax, was going to Roosevelt Island to play tennis when he got stuck. She talked to him by cell phone.

"He's like a trouper through it all," she said. "He's really a little hero."

But, she added, "He's not coming this way to tennis anymore."

Once safely on the ground, Dax said he told himself not to look down while being rescued. While on the tram, he told ABC's "Good Morning America," people started playing cell phone ringtones to pass the time, and some of the adults started dancing to make them laugh.

Of course, there were problems.

New York Police spokesman Martin Speechley says now that all the passengers have been rescued, an investigation will begin into what caused the tram to malfunction.

"Well, there was this one kid who peed in a cup," he said.

The cause of the outage of the Roosevelt Island Tramway cars was not known, said Herb Berman, president of the agency that operates the system, which offer breathtaking views of the city from up to 250 feet high.

One of the cars had 46 passengers plus an operator, the other had 21 passengers and an operator, police said. Each car can hold about 125 people.

Tramcars on the system stall occasionally, the last time around Labor Day, Berman said. This time, the main and backup power systems failed, police said.

Lynn Krogh, spokeswoman for Gov. George Pataki, said the state Department of Labor would conduct a full investigation before allowing service to resume.

About 10,000 people live on Roosevelt Island, which also is accessible by bridge and subway.

The island, which lies in the East River between Manhattan and Queens, is about 2 miles long and 800 feet wide.

The tram system, which opened in 1976, is the only commuter cable car system in North America, according to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. Web site.

It has been featured in movies such as "Spider-Man," "City Slickers" and the Sylvester Stallone thriller "Nighthawks." The trams travel 3,100 feet in about 5 minutes at an average speed of 16 mph, the Web site says.

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