S.D. Co-op Crews Aim High in Fair Ride Rescue
They’ve been on their share of thrill rides, but three co-op journeymen linemen got a totally different perspective after a recent harrowing encounter with a popular ride at a fair in South Dakota.
It was the final hours of the 139th Annual Rosebud Fair and Wacipi, when the 90-foot tall Super Shot ride broke down, stranding a dozen riders in mid-air.
Cherry-Todd Electric Cooperative’s Darrell Scott was on the scene and quickly called his co-op in Mission, where dispatchers had been contacted by local law enforcement about the Aug. 28 incident.
“I was working at the tribal fair and told dispatchers that we needed a big bucket truck for sure,” said Scott.
Soon, the co-op sent Chris Rahn and Joe Allen to the scene to meet Scott with two bucket trucks, with reaches of 50 and 55 feet.
The ride had completed its vertical free fall drop, when it ground to a halt about 50 feet above the ground.
“I secured the roads but Jon and Chris had the toughest job because they had to look at [the riders] eye-to-eye,” said Scott.
Before Allen and Rahn could transfer riders to the bucket, they took extra steps to ensure everyone’s safety by securing the platform to the tower. The operators “were worried that the ride’s electric brake hadn’t been working properly and that if our equipment bumped it, it would bring it crashing down,” said Allen.
The rescue took about half an hour, the line crews said. No one was hurt. No cause was given for the breakdown, said Calvin Waln, a captain at Rosebud Sioux Tribe Law Enforcement Services.
Riders remained calm, “but you could tell they were pretty wound up. They were trying to laugh it off, but you could tell they were shaking. You could feel their hearts beating,” said Scott, noting that one rider appeared to be about five or six years old and was accompanied by a grown-up.
Bucket trucks are especially valuable in rural communities with limited resources, said Tim Grablander, general manager/CEO of Cherry-Todd EC.
“Our local fire and rescue department is run by volunteers and their equipment wouldn’t have reached folks,” said Grablander. “The next fire department would have been two hours away. We’re only about 13 miles away.”
Grablander praised lineworkers for “staying focused during a very tense and dangerous situation. At first, we weren’t entirely sure our buckets could reach the riders.”
The lineworkers routinely practice bucket rescues but until the fair ride that evening, they never had to execute the maneuver in real life. “We work for our members and we were glad to give back,” said Scott.