Acts of Kindness
Bystander rushes to rescue terrified teen dangling from amusement park ride
“I couldn’t let that little girl die.”
Elijah Chan
01.05.22

Heroes don’t wear capes.

Sometimes, they’re just normal people enjoying a day at the park when they realize someone is in need.

Flickr - Jeremy Thompson
Source:
Flickr - Jeremy Thompson

One such person is Matthew Howard Sr.

He and his daughter were just leaving the amusement park when their trip suddenly took a turn for the worse.

Howard heard desperate screams for help.

When he tried to look where the voice came from, he was surprised by a terrible sight. A young girl was holding on for dear life as her body dangled on the edge of a slow-moving gondola pod. Below her was a 25-feet drop and nothing to catch her fall.

Flickr - Jeremy Thompson
Source:
Flickr - Jeremy Thompson

Still seated on the gondola, her little brother was crying hysterically. He was screaming and he couldn’t hold on much longer.

Below her, park-goers congregated and called attention to the situation.

One of the people who saw the scene unfold was Lorent Lent. He pulled out his phone to document the scene. The video he posted has since become viral.

YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition

“What her brother was screaming really got me. ‘I can’t pull her back up. Her head is stuck,'” Lent told Inside Edition.

That’s when Howard jumped into action.

He and his daughter Leeann Winchell didn’t hesitate. They knew they had to do something but with safety staff not yet around, they had to improvise.

YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition

Howard positioned himself right under the gondola. But the fall is still too high and the young girl is hesitant to take the leap of faith.

YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition

It might only be their only chance to save her, though, so Howard called out to her and assured her that everything will be all right.

“It’s OK! It’s OK to let go. I’ll catch you, honey,” Howard told the Associated Press.

The young girl lets go.

She fell straight to the crowds that has already congregated below the gondola pod. Howard successfully broke the girl’s fall while his daughter Leeann quickly caught the girl’s neck and upper back.

YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition

Howard and the girl were knocked out but thankfully, their unconscious state lasted only for a moment.

Both of them were carried to the emergency responders. The young girl was taken to a nearby hospital. She’s stable and only had minor injuries. Howard was also treated for minor back injuries.

The dramatic encounter was finally over.

In the middle of the horrifying episode were the strangers who came together in impulsive coordination. They may not know each other, but they all understood that they needed to do something and quickly.

YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition

“I couldn’t let that little girl die,” Howard told The Associated Press.

“No one wants to put himself underneath a body like that, but I couldn’t stand by and watch.”

Thanks to these people, especially the father-daughter tandem, a day of smiles that turned into screams still ended with everyone alive and well.

Park officials investigated the event.

The theme park’s gondola ride was eventually cleared to operate by the New York State Department of labor. This also comes after the sheriff’s office’s announcement that the ride was working correctly.

YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition

Meanwhile, despite the establishment’s assurance, some parents said that they’ll still frequent the park, but might veer away from the gondola ride.

Watch Howard’s incredible rescue in the video below!

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

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By Elijah Chan
hi@sbly.com
Elijah Chan is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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