While there are certainly risks inherent to riding a roller coaster, 12-year old Shane Matus certainly didn’t expect to be hit in the face by a bird while riding the Kingda Ka roller coaster Thursday at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey.
“Nothing like this has ever happened before — it was a true act of nature,” park spokesperson Kristin Siebeneicher wrote in an emailed statement to the New York Daily News. “We immediately closed the ride and notified the state Department of Community Affairs, which is protocol. They cleared us to reopen the ride approximately 30 minutes later.
The park did not identify Matus, referring to him only as a juvenile male, but the Daily Mail and others caught up with the boy, who recounted the experience of being hit in the face by a bird while riding one of the world’s fastest and tallest roller coasters.
“When it hit me I was like, ‘What the-? Did somebody throw a ball or something?’ When I started spitting out feathers, I was like, that was a bird,” the boy told the Daily Mail. “It hurt a lot for like three seconds. People behind us had feathers and blood all over them.”
According to Matus, witnesses said the bird exploded.
The Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure is the world’s tallest roller coaster at 456 feet. It reaches a top speed of 128 miles per hour and travels 3,118 feet in just less than 30 seconds.
While incidents of boys being hit in the face by birds while riding roller coasters are generally rare, the same fate befell famous model Fabio when he was hit in the face by a goose while riding Apollo’s Chariot at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1999.
Matus said the incident won’t deter him from trying out the Kingda Ka again in the future, but it might affect his seat choice. The boy sat in the front row on the day of the incident. Should he ride again, the birds will have to find their way past several others as Matus vowed that next time he won’t ride the roller coaster in the front seat.