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New Zealand Athlete Goes Viral After Catching Stranger’s Phone Mid-Air On Roller Coaster

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New Zealand fistball athlete Samuel Kempf was certainly living life with open eyes when he caught a stranger’s cellphone mid-air while riding a roller coaster in Spain. The amazing feat, which took place at PortAdventura in Costa Dorada, quickly went viral and had people the world over wondering, “How’d he do it?”

PortAdventura Theme Park

Life is full of adventures, but for those who crave a little more excitement than the day-to-day offers, roller coasters can provide real excitement. For the most serious thrill-seekers, PortAdventura is often the destination of choice.

PortAdventura is one of the most iconic theme parks in all of Europe. Located just an hour from Barcelona, the theme park offers six different “worlds” in one location. It is in PortAdventura Park that you’ll find rides suited for the whole family, from the fan-favorite Grand Canyon Rapids to El Secreto de los Mayas, a tricky maze of mirrors.

For the adrenaline junkies, the park offers a number of top-rated roller coasters including Stampida, Dragon Khan, and Tutuki Splash. It’s Shambhala, though, that offers the real thrills.

What Is Shambhala?

Shambhala is a steel hypercoaster (a complete circuit roller coaster with a height measuring greater than 200 feet) that opened to the public in May 2012. At 256 feet tall and with a speed of 83 miles per hour, it was the tallest and fastest coaster in Europe until 2018, and it’s still right near the top.

When riders strap into their seats on Shambhala, they can expect the adventure of a lifetime. Each three-minute ride starts with a 249-foot ascent to the top of the first hill, then drops down to the ground at a 77.4-degree angle. Following the first drop, the train then goes over five more hills before dropping again and entering a helix. After a few more camelbacks, the train drops into a splashdown element, followed by more daring hills, before finally entering the station. Throughout the trip, the train loops under and around Dragon Khan, adding to the thrills.

No Loose Articles

Most thrill rides have a sign stating “No Loose Articles” or something similar posted at the entrance. That means no keys, no water bottles, no sunglasses – and no phone. There’s a reason for that, as one roller coaster-riding tourist at PortAdventura quickly learned.

Samuel Kempf was in Spain after representing New Zealand at the World Fistballing Championships in Switzerland. He was just looking for a fun day at the theme park – but by the end of the day, he’d be a viral sensation and world-wide hero. The reason? He saved one man’s (very expensive) iPhone X from certain destruction.

The Catch Seen Round The World

Mr. Kempf told Stuff New Zealand that just before the ride’s first drop, he saw a man two rows ahead of him drop his phone just out of reach in his own car. As he observed the struggle from afar, Kempf jokingly shouted, “Get ready to catch!” to his brother and friends. Imagine his surprise when he did exactly that.

As the stranger’s phone hurtled through the air, Mr. Kempf reached out and grabbed it mid-ride. “The ride started and I totally forgot about it because I was just in the moment ’cause it was such a good ride and then after the first drop we rose up and I just saw the phone drift across my view so I reached out and managed to catch it,” he said.

At the end of the ride, the unwitting hero returned the phone to its grateful owner, who then rewarded Kempf in the best way possible – with a copy of the in-ride video. The footage has since gone viral, with over 6.6 million views and dozens of news outlets around the world picking up the story. As YouTube user Don Myer’s said, “This dude made it to LEGEND status.”

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