Fourteen patrons were stranded for more than three hours this morning when an escalator at the Bland Street Fitness Emporium stopped moving.

“We were riding up to the second floor, where they keep the stair-stepper machines, and all of a sudden I heard this ka-CHUNK,” said one patron who identified herself as “Britney.” “Then the escalator just, like, stopped. It was scary.”

According to call logs, an emergency repair crew was dispatched at 9:37 this morning from the Peerless Moving Stairway Corp. office in Hays, but it took the workers until 12:48 to get the escalator moving again.

Several patrons described symptoms of panic, but all gave credit to an unnamed Methodist minister as the hero of the crisis, saying he kept the victims calm and dissuaded them from the desperate measures some of them had contemplated.

“He told us stories about Isaiah or Elijah or someone,” Britney explained. “Man! I didn’t know crows could do that.”

When the escalator finally started moving at 12:48, the cheers were described as “deafening.”

“So we finally started moving at, like, one in the afternoon,” “Britney” related, “and by the time I got to the top I was just too worn out from my ordeal to do any exercise. So I took the elevator back down, because it’s going to be a long time before you get me on one of those escalators again.”