Fire brigade bills fairground ride victims for rescue

AFP
AFP - [email protected] • 16 Nov, 2009 Updated Mon 16 Nov 2009 12:07 CEST
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Fourteen people rescued by the fire brigade after being left dangling upside down from a Berlin fairground ride last summer for nearly an hour have been slapped with a hefty bill, a spokesman said Monday.

The thrill-seekers got more than they bargained for when the "Star Gate" ride, a large spinning wheel with rotating gondolas, in Berlin came to a terrifying halt 15 metres (50 feet) above the ground.

Finally saved after 44 long minutes, each person must now pay €281.43 ($420) after their ordeal.

Thorsten W., 39, who was on the ride with his wife and child, told the Bild daily: "We have been punished enough. Our son never wants to go on a carousel

again. And now we have to pay almost €850? Never!"

The operator of the ride refuses to pay because they didn't call the emergency services, and were capable of rescuing the 14 people themselves, Bild said.

"We didn't call the fire brigade ... We didn't need any help, and therefore we will not cover these costs," Ron Agtsch told the paper.

Stefan Fleischer, a spokesman for the Berlin fire service, defended the decision to send out bills, but said that the fire service was now looking into the affair.

"This is not the fire brigade being cheeky or nasty. We performed a service, and ... the people rescued are now being billed," Fleischer told AFP.

He added that the people have the possibility to claim back the costs from their insurance firms, or to sue the operator.

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AFP 2009/11/16 12:07

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