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Boy Rescued From Ferris Wheel After Trying to Reach a Favorite Shoelace

July 20, 1989

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) _ An autistic teen-ager who clambered out the top chair of a stationary Ferris wheel to retrieve his favorite shoelace was rescued by a ride operator who gave the boy his own shoelace, authorities said.

A police officer and a carnival worker climbed 50 to 60 feet up the ride and held on to Jamee Kleinman, 13, of North Syracuse for about seven minutes Wednesday until the fire department rescued all three with a ladder bucket, said police spokesman Rod Carr.

Kleinman climbed over the safety bar to try to get off the ride after dropping a special shoelace he always carries with him. A teacher’s aide who was escorting the boy grabbed him and held on until the officer and carnival worker climbed up, said Carr.

″We were loading another set of people,″ said ride operator Randy Gaddy. ″I looked up, and there was a kid hanging on the seat. Naturally, I climbed up there as fast as I could.″

While Gaddy climbed up one side, Officer Joseph P. Reilly climbed up the other.

Kleinman was struggling and screaming the whole time, said Reilly. Autistic people have a disorder that makes them often withdraw from external reality.

″It seemed like forever,″ said Reilly. ″I was just concerned for Jamee’s safety. I didn’t want him to fall.″

Once they were safely on the ground, Gaddy took a shoelace out of his left sneaker and gave it to Kleinman, Reilly said.