The girl lost her grip and fell to where Mr Howard, Ms Winchell and others were waiting.
In one video taken of the scene and posted on Facebook, one of the people can be heard shouting: 'We'll catch you, honey'.
He looked up to see the girl dangling and her little brother sat next to her in the green two-person pod, crying hysterically and saying he could not hold on to her.
The 14-year-old girl managed to slip under the safety bars of the ride, where she was left hanging for more than 3 minutes before being caught by a crowd who gathered below her. She lets go and is struck by a tree branch, but is caught by other amusement park patrons.
Howard, 47, and his 21-year-old daughter, Leeann Winchell, ran over and positioned themselves under the girl as the ride stopped and security came running. The two took the brunt of the girl's fall, tumbling to the ground themselves after the catch.
"I couldn't let that little girl die", Howard said.
Mr Howard was treated and released for a minor back injury after the rescue.More news: California father accused of killing son to appear in court
So there's a big possibility that this girl chose to be an idiot and leave her seat during the ride - which is probably the case, and probably why she ended up hanging from her neck.
Ms Winchell, who is applying to be a nurse, said she and her father had visited the girl on Sunday at the hospital and she was in good spirits.
She and her dad say they couldn't just stand there and not do anything.
Park-goers below start to notice the trouble she is having, and begin to devise a plan for how they will save her when she inevitably falls.
"I'm just glad we could be there to help", Winchell said.
Another child was also in the auto, the sheriff's office said. Howard told the girl that it was alright to let go of the ride. The park said in a statement that the safety of guests is a top priority.
Officials at the Six Flags Amusement Park - where the incident happened - said that there did not appear to be "any malfunction of the ride". The ride had been inspected and is in proper order, but the park still won't provide this ride clearance to operate.