17-year-old Jochem Verzel from Wijk en Aalburg was stuck for hours on Saturday at a height of 30 meters on a roller coaster in Plopsaland, Belgium. With his body temperature of just 33 degrees and his legs numb, firefighters had to rescue him. “It was very cold,” says Jochem.
Emergency services in our southern neighbors sounded the alarm on Saturday when cars from the famous roller coaster were Ride towards happiness Stop at a great height. There were nine people in the carriages, including 17-year-old Jochem from Wijk en Aalburg.
His track record from that day shows that he’s a true rollercoaster fan. This was his 10th ride at the attraction, which opened last year, in which people toss and turn five times. His father thought it was enough after time. “He really finished it at that time,” says Jochem. “But it gives me my happiness, so it let me get my way.” And so Abi Verzel was waiting downstairs, unaware that he wouldn’t hug his son until six hours later.
After setting off, the roller coaster suddenly stopped at a height of 30 meters. “At first everyone was very excited,” says de Brabander. “It was still light and the view over Plopsaland was very beautiful. And everyone cheered.” But that laughter soon faded. Heavy rain and the aftermath of Storm Eunice made it cold out there. “I was wearing thick clothes but because of the rain I was completely soaked.”
As darkness fell, emergency services were heavily present at the attraction. The fire brigade had great difficulty freeing the daredevils. The crane bucket that the rescuers were sitting in was spinning due to the strong wind. Jochem was not aware of this at first. He was sitting all the way in front and couldn’t see what was going on underneath.
No one was sitting next to him. And behind him – in the opposite direction – there was a German boy, but communication was difficult. “It was blowing so hard that I could barely understand it. I felt so lonely.”
A few hours later, the German Jochem heard: “Firefighters saved someone!” Moments later, it was the teen’s turn as well.
“I put on some sort of climbing harness and was chained to the winch while I was still in the wagon. Then they helped me ride the winch. That was a good thing, because I couldn’t feel my leg anymore.”
Once downstairs, Yoshim was wrapped in blankets: his body temperature was only 33 degrees. An ambulance took Jochem and his father to the hospital on the solution.
After a doctor said the patient was fine, Jochem was allowed to go home. One day later, the young Brabandar discreetly told that he was fine. “My fingers are still a little stiff from the cold, but that’s it. It was a very special experience.”
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