Friday, Dec. 27, 1996 | 11:59 a.m.
The roller coaster atop the 1,149-foot Stratosphere Tower has been heralded by some as a great thrill ride and by others as a disaster waiting to happen.
On Thursday, it came closer to fulfilling the prophecy of the latter.
Two wheels fell off the roller coaster, bringing it to an abrupt halt around 1 p.m. It was repaired, reinspected and back in operation 4 1/2 hours later.
It was not the first time that parts fell off the coaster that circles the bubble atop the space needle-type attraction on Las Vegas Boulevard just north of Sahara Avenue.
In May, safety inspectors cleared Stratosphere Corp. to resume operation of the High Roller after a malfunction shut it down for nearly 24 hours.
Officials said that incident was triggered by a tension cylinder on one of 15 motors used to propel cars breaking off and falling to an outdoor observation deck, cracking a safety glass window on the 109th floor.
After Thursday's accident, which partially derailed one of the cars, riders were evacuated from the roller coaster and were given either refunds or exchanges to ride the Big Shot, the bouncing-type ride at the very top of the tower.