Busch Gardens Closes Popular Ride After Deadly Accident at Australian Theme Park

"The safety of guests and team members continues to be Busch Gardens' number one priority"

The effects of a tragic theme park accident in Australia are being felt in the Sunshine State.

Busch Gardens in Tampa is making the decision to close its popular “Congo River Rapids” ride for an unspecified amount of time.

Experts there say they are working with other parks and ride manufacturers to find out what happened on a similar river rapids ride in Dreamworld, and to make sure the same accident doesn’t take place in the Florida park.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those involved in the tragic incident at the Dreamworld park. The safety of guests and team members continues to be Busch Gardens' number one priority," a Busch Gardens representative said in a statement.

Four people were killed Tuesday when the Thunder River Rapids ride at Dreamworld, the country’s largest theme park, malfunctioned. Two others were thrown from the ride while two more were pinned underneath, but they are expected to fully recover.

The Thunder River Rapids ride whisks people in circular rafts along a fast-moving, artificial river, with a conveyor belt helping move the rafts through the water. Closed-circuit television footage showed the ride was coming to its conclusion when two rafts collided, Codd said.

"In terms of how they escaped, maybe through the providence of God or somebody, but it seems from what I've seen almost a miracle that anybody came out of that," Queensland Police Assistant Commissioner Brian Codd told reporters Tuesday. "If we're going to be thankful for anything, I'm thankful for that."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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