1999 NEWS ARCHIVE

JANUARY

  • Wisconsin jury awards $1 billion in case against go-kart manufacturer (1/13/99)
  • Canadian officials charge bungee ride company, owner (1/20/99)
  • Four injured after ride malfunction at Florida park (1/24/99)

    FEBRUARY

  • Ride owner pleads not guilty to manslaughter charge in Australia (2/5/99)
  • Worker killed at Walt Disney World (2/14/99)
  • California woman wins suit against Knott's Berry Farm (2/22/99)
  • Power outage strands riders upside down at Houston fair (2/28/99)

    MARCH

  • Illinois Senate considers ride safety legislation (3/1/99)
  • Knoebels water slide brings injuries, lawsuits (3/2/99)
  • Ohio park sued after death of girl (3/11/99)
  • One killed, ten injured in accident at Six Flags Over Texas (3/21/99)
  • Investigators search for answers in Texas (3/23/99)
  • CPSC, Reverchon announce repair program for Himalaya rides (3/23/99)
  • Witnesses: staff took too long to rescue victims; park to review procedures (3/24/99)
  • Park waited before calling 911 (3/25/99)
  • Disneyland cited for "serious violations," fined $12,500 (3/25/99)
  • Bungee ride owner gets two months to decide plea (3/26/99)

    APRIL

  • Accident at Paramount's Carowinds injures 7 (4/5/99)
  • Riders stranded for hours after roller coaster stalls (4/7/99)
  • Sensor malfunction blamed for Carowinds accident (4/9/99)
  • Braking system malfunction blamed for Six Flags mishap (4/9/99)
  • Six Flags Over Texas sued in Roaring Rapids death (4/12/99)
  • Deflated inner tube, broken cord to blame for Roaring Rapids accident (4/20/99)
  • Prosecutors extend Himalaya investigation, dismiss indictments (4/30/99)

    MAY

  • Michigan carnival worker killed in accident (5/2/99)
  • B&B: accident was victim's fault (5/4/99)
  • No criminal charges for Bell's, inspectors, in Wildcat accident (5/7/99)
  • Rider thrown from new Darien Lake roller coaster (5/16/99)
  • Reports of safety hazards prompt another Disneyland investigation (5/20/99)
  • Bungee ride owner pleads not guilty (5/21/99)
  • Three injured after safety bar releases during ride (5/23/99)
  • Kentucky Kingdom roller coaster malfunctions again (5/29/99)

    JUNE

  • Disneyland settles lawsuit (6/3/99)
  • One killed, eight injured after car flies off Himalaya ride at Coney Island (6/11/99)
  • Coaster car derails, strands riders (6/19/99)

    JULY

  • Thirty injured after Kennywood roller coaster malfunctions (7/8/99)
  • Operators could be blamed for Thunderbolt malfunction (7/9/99)
  • Mind Eraser coaster leads to Elitch Gardens lawsuit (7/10/99)
  • Universal Studios settles Jurassic Park lawsuit (7/12/99)
  • Kansas City roller coaster malfunctions, derails (7/17/99)
  • Two injured at Ohio fair (7/28/99)
  • Five injured after rapids ride raft capsizes (7/29/99)

    AUGUST

  • More than 100 riders injured on Mind Eraser coasters (8/4/99)
  • Carnival worker electrocuted at Wisconsin carnival (8/6/99)
  • Rapids ride raft overturns at Riverside Park; 6 injured (8/7/99)
  • Premier Parks, Six Flags shut down all river rapids rides (8/9/99)
  • State orders Kiddie Park to close ride (8/12/99)
  • Employee dead after accident at Lake Compounce (8/21/99)
  • Boy, 12, killed in fall from ride at Paramount's Great America (8/22/99)
  • Man dies after accident at Paramount's Kings Dominion (8/23/99)
  • Knott's Berry Farm accident injures 5 (8/23/99)
  • Witnesses: safety bar wasn't checked; boy struggled to stay inside car (8/24/99)
  • Paramount's Kings Island closes Drop Zone, King Cobra rides (8/24/99)
  • Roller coaster malfunctions, stalls; riders stranded for hours (8/25/99)
  • Paramount's Carowinds, Canada's Wonderland close rides (8/25/99)
  • Paramount: no operator error, no malfunction (8/25/99)
  • Cedar Point roller coaster malfunctions; no injuries (8/26/99)
  • Ride malfunctions at Canada fair; 2 injured (8/27/99)
  • Two dead after New Jersey roller coaster malfunctions (8/28/99)

    SEPTEMBER

  • Fair ride collapses; 16 injured (9/1/99)
  • Six Flags park installs seat belts on Giant Drop ride (9/1/99)
  • Illinois to reinspect all roller coasters (9/1/99)
  • Boy jumps from Shockwave coaster, claims he wasn't properly secured (9/2/99)
  • Authority to regulate amusement rides could be restored to CPSC (9/3/99)
  • California Senate votes for state oversight of amusement rides, 30-6 (9/3/99)
  • Florida inspectors to visit 73 amusement parks (9/3/99)
  • Boy injured after falling out of Six Flags ride (9/4/99)
  • Industry to fight any federal attempts to improve safety at parks (9/4/99)
  • Ride operator injured at Connecticut fair (9/5/99)
  • Boy killed in fall from Octopus ride (9/5/99)
  • CPSC: injuries from amusement park rides up 87% since 1994 (9/21/99)
  • Wave Swinger accident not the fault of manufacturer (9/21/99)
  • IAAPA: states have amusement park safety under control (9/22/99)
  • Roll-O-Plane strands riders at Rhode Island carnival (9/24/99)
  • Three injured after Geauga Lake roller coaster malfunctions (9/26/99)

    OCTOBER

  • Davis signs California amusement park safety bill into law (10/4/99)
  • Park safety legislation moves forward in U.S. House (10/6/99)
  • Swing ride malfunctions, injures 2-year-old boy (10/9/99)
  • Himalaya civil lawsuits settled (10/12/99)
  • Park to "get rid of" Wild Wonder ride (10/14/99)
  • Deadly Octopus ride passed an inspection, says owner (10/14/99)
  • Owner of fatal Octopus ride acquitted (10/20/99)
  • "I would never let my children ride on that company's rides..." (10/22/99)
  • New Mexico State Fair hires B&B Amusements (10/22/99)
  • Riverside raft accident could not have been foreseen, say experts (10/26/99)
  • Senator says B&B failed to disclose legal proceedings to fair officials (10/27/99)
  • State voids contract with B&B: "They did not tell the truth" (10/30/99)
  • B&B dropped, new fair operator sought: "We want people to be safe" (10/31/99)

    NOVEMBER

  • Conklin Shows charged with safety violations in Wave Swinger accident (11/1/99)
  • Drop Zone death: no charges, no explanation (11/5/99)
  • WaterWorld USA settles with riders in 1997 water slide collapse (11/11/99)
  • Structural failure to blame for roller coaster derailment (11/15/99)
  • Owner of fatal bungee ride admits he altered ride after inspection (11/27/99)

    DECEMBER

  • Rocket Launcher death trial ends (12/15/99)
  • New Mexico files lawsuit against B&B Amusements (12/16/99)
  • B&B Amusements, Bob G. Gill & Associates charged with manslaughter (12/16/99)
  • Jurors express shock, outrage after hearing evidence in Himalaya case (12/18/99)
  • Arizona fair drops B&B Amusements (12/18/99)
  • B&B makes bid for New Mexico State Fair contract (12/21/99)


  • B&B Amusements makes bid for New Mexico State Fair contract

    (Tuesday, December 21, 1999) - B&B Amusements, Six Flags, and five other fair operators are bidding for a contract to provide rides and other midway attractions for the New Mexico State Fair.

    B&B Amusements had already won the bid in October, however, the state of New Mexico voided the contract due to the company's accident history which fair officials claim was not completely revealed to them in the bidding process. The state of New Mexico has filed a lawsuit against B&B Amusements, asking that a judge declare the previous contract invalid. In addition, the state is asking for $50,000 in punitive damages and compensation for the expenses incurred in the second bidding process.

    Fair officials are scheduled to meet early in January to decide which company will be awarded the contract.

    Last week, B&B Amusements was indicted on manslaughter charges in connection with the 1998 Himalaya accident at a Texas fair. A 15-year-old girl was killed after having been thrown out of the ride, which was owned and operated by B&B Amusements. Police found the ride to have been "poorly maintained," that the ride operators and owners had been advised of safety problems of the Himalaya before the incident, that the ride was being operated at an "unsafe" speed, that the restraint equipment was inadequate, that the use of cotter pins which were too small to hold the lap bars in place created an "unsafe" restraint system, and that this was known by the operators of the ride prior to the incident.

    The company has blamed the victim for the accident.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    Jurors express shock, outrage after hearing evidence in Himalaya case

    (Saturday, December 18, 1999) - After returning manslaughter indictments against B&B Amusements, Bob G. Gill & Associates, and five of their employees in connection with the death of 15-year-old Leslie Lane, Travis County grand jurors called for increased regulation of carnival rides. In a rather unusual action, grand jurors issued a statement to Texas District Judge Wilford Flowers, expressing their shock and outrage over what they learned in the course of their investigation.

    "Each carnival ride is transported, set up, and torn down by unskilled and poorly trained employees for each of these events," said jurors.

    "Testimony has indicated that our state has little or no control of this industry."

    Prosecutors in the case also expressed their amazement in regard to the actions and behavior of the companies indicted. In October, Travis County District Attorney Brian Kingston said, "I would never let my children ride on that company's rides after what I've learned."

    Kingston also said that the evidence in this case is overwhelming. "It was sort of the more you looked, the more you found."

    On Thursday, another Travis County District Attorney, Ronnie Earle, said, "As a result of our investigation, we have learned a great deal about the carnival industry that operates in large part in the shadows with transient workers."

    While the actions and behavior of the companies indicted are not indicative of the practices of the overall carnival or amusement industry, it should be noted that B&B Amusements continues to receive the industry's full support.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    Arizona fair drops B&B Amusements

    (Saturday, December 18, 1999) - Craig Kimmell, the producer of the Chandler, Arizona Ostrich Festival, has announced that he will not renew a contract with B&B Amusements for next year. B&B Amusements had been providing midway attractions for the fair since 1997. Kimmell says that safety concerns were considered in the city's decision to drop the company.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    New Mexico files lawsuit against B&B Amusements

    (Thursday, December 16, 1999) - New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid has filed a lawsuit against B&B Amusements of Yuma, Arizona, claiming that the company misrepresented its accident history and safety record to New Mexico State Fair managers in an attempt to gain a 3-year contract to provide midway attractions for the fair. Madrid is asking a judge to throw out a contract which the state had entered into with the company, claiming that B&B Amusements and its president, Stephen Merten, "misled the state fair with regard to B&B's accident history to induce the state fair to enter into the contract."

    Madrid is also seeking compensation for the cost of a second search for a new fair contractor, and $50,000 in punitive damages.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    B&B Amusements, Bob G. Gill & Associates charged with manslaughter

    (Thursday, December 16, 1999) - A Texas grand jury has charged five people and two corporations with manslaughter in connection with the 1998 Himalaya accident at the Austin-Travis County Livestock Show and Rodeo which left 15-year-old Leslie Lane dead and two others injured.

    Charged with manslaughter are: Robert Dale "Bobby" Merten Sr., owner of B&B Amusements of Yuma, Arizona; Robert G. Gill, owner of Bob G. Gill & Associates of Florida; Jeff Campbell, maintenance worker for B&B Amusements; Joshua Johnson, the operator of the Himalaya ride on the night of the accident; and Philip Joseph Parenti, who also worked for Merten. B&B Amusements, the company which owned and operated the Himalaya ride, and Bob G. Gill & Associates, the company responsible for inspecting the ride, also face manslaughter charges.

    The accident happened on March 19, 1998. Leslie Lane was riding the Himalaya with her brother and a friend. The three were flung from their seat after their safety bar broke off of their car. Lane was thrown into a wall and killed.

    The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission inspected the ride and concluded that the car in which the victim was riding was defective. Austin police also conducted their own investigation of the ride, and concluded that Lane's safety bar broke off of her car "at all three points of attachment." The lap bar was later found underneath Lane's body. Police also concluded that "the use of cotter pins that were too small to keep the lap bar in place created an unsafe restraint system," and that "this was known by operators of the Himalaya ride prior to the incident."

    Eight months ago, prosecutors dropped first-degree murder charges against nine people in connection with Lane's death, saying that they needed more time to examine evidence. The manslaughter charges allege reckless conduct on the part of those named in the indictments.

    District Attorney Ronnie Earle says that the new indictments are "strongly supported by the evidence."

    In a statement from the grand jury foreman, jurors say they were "shocked to discover how the lives of children are endangered by failing to properly regulate amusement rides."

    The amusement industry continues to support and defend B&B Amusements.

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    Rocket Launcher death trial ends

    (Wednesday, December 15, 1999) - Closing arguments have been made in the case against Anderson Ventures LLC of Delaware. The Technical Standards and Safety Authority has charged the company and its owner, Doug Anderson, with four safety violations in connection with the 1998 Rocket Launcher bungee ride accident which killed a man at a Canada fair.

    The judge will make her ruling on February 22, 2000. If found guilty, Anderson faces fines of up to $400,000.

    In addition, Anderson Ventures and the Technical Standards and Safety Authority itself are both named as co-defendants in a $1 million civil lawsuit.

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    Owner of fatal bungee ride admits he altered ride after inspection

    (Saturday, November 27, 1999) - Doug Anderson, the owner of Delaware-based Anderson Ventures LLC and the operator of the Rocket Launcher bungee ride which killed man at a fair in Canada in 1998, testified in an Ottawa courtroom that he made unapproved alterations to the ride after it had been inspected by Toronto's Technical Standards and Safety Authority.

    Anderson faces four counts under Ontario's Amusement Devices Act. The charges include: altering an amusement device through the use of an unapproved nylon extension strap, operating an amusement device using equipment that did not meet the technical specifications of amusement device regulations, and altering the approved design of an amusement device without submitting engineering changes. If found guilty, Anderson's company faces maximum fines of $100,000 for each violation.

    The ride, a reverse-bungee catapult ride called the Rocket Launcher, consists of two steel towers with a bungee cord connected to each. The cords are stretched toward the ground where they are attached to the rider's safety harness and then released, sending the rider on a high-speed vertical launch into mid-air.

    The accident happened August 24, 1998 at the Central Canada Exhibition fairgrounds in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Jerome Charron, 21, was killed after his safety harness disengaged, leaving him to fall about 100 feet from mid-air to pavement.

    Kent McKay, who worked for Anderson as "jumpmaster" of the Rocket Launcher, testified: "I told Mr. Charron he can put out his arms and fly like Superman."

    The Rocket Launcher passed an inspection by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority on August 20, 1998, before the fair opened, however, the owner of the ride substituted a blue nylon strap for the strap which had been approved for use on the ride. The prosecutor in the case, Tom Ayres, told the court that the strap "significantly altered the safety features built into the ride."

    The strap connected the victim's harness to the bungee cords.

    "The use of the blue nylon extension strap created a set of conditions that was inherently dangerous," argued Ayres.

    Anderson's attorney, Tom Conway, maintains that his client did "everything that could be reasonably expected" to ensure that the ride was in safe operating condition. He admits, however, that the nylon strap which Anderson substituted had not been professionally tested. He also conceded that the nylon strap was in a box nearby the ride at the time of the inspection, and that Anderson never showed it to inspectors.

    Conway also suggested that, since the ride had passed the inspection, the problem may lie in the current system of regulation.

    The trial resumes December 14.

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    Structural failure to blame for roller coaster derailment

    (Monday, November 15, 1999) - Investigators at Worlds of Fun theme park in Kansas City, Missouri have determined that this summer's accident on the 19-year-old Orient Express roller coaster was caused by internal metal fatigue. A fracture was discovered in one the ride's metal cross tie supports, which are used to align the ride's tubular rails.

    The accident happened on July 17 when two rear cars of one of the ride's six-car trains struck the fractured support and derailed. The cars were left dangling about 30 feet above the ground at a 90-degree angle. Riders were left stranded for nearly two hours until firemen finally rescued them. No one was seriously injured.

    Park officials say that the fracture originated inside of the support, leaving ride inspectors unable to detect it prior to the accident.

    Investigators included park officials, independent ride safety experts and representatives from the ride's manufacturer, Arrow Dynamics. Worlds of Fun also asked that the state fire marshal's office observe the investigation.

    The ride has been repaired and has passed subsequent safety inspections. It will reopen along with the park in April.


    WaterWorld USA settles with riders in 1997 water slide collapse

    (Thursday, November 11, 1999) - Attorneys for fourteen victims of the 1997 Banzai Pipeline water slide accident at WaterWorld USA theme park in Concord, California have reached a $4 million settlement with Premier Parks, the park's parent company; Whitewater West Industries, the ride's designer and manufacturer; and the Napa Unified School District.

    The accident happened on June 2, 1997. A group of high school seniors were visiting the park in celebration of their graduation. They ignored a lifeguard's warning and rushed past him in an attempt to slide down the ride all together. The combined weight of the students exceeded the original design load by four times, and a section of the ride collapsed. Some of the students fell from heights of 30 feet. They later admitted that they were trying to break the school record for the largest number of students to ride the slide at one time. A seventeen-year-old girl was killed and thirty-two other students were injured.

    The students' attorneys believe that the students should not be held reponsible for the accident, despite their reckless behavior. In an attempt to shift the blame away from the students, attorneys blame school and park officials for failing to prevent what happened.

    Seven other personal injury claims are still pending, as is a wrongful death lawsuit. Those cases are scheduled to be heard on June 12, 2000.


    Drop Zone death: no charges, no explanation

    (Friday, November 5, 1999) - The Santa Clara District Attorney's Office has announced that no charges will be filed in connection with August's Drop Zone Stunt Tower accident at Paramount's Great America theme park. The investigation of the accident, which left 12-year-old Joshua Smurphat dead, yielded no explanation of how the accident happened.

    "How he fell from a ride equipped with a contoured seat and an over-the-shoulder safety harness is not known," says a police report which suggests that Smurphat fell from the 129-foot tall ride as his car was descending in a freefall.

    Gayle Ando, general manager of Paramount's Great America, says that park investigators were also unable to make any conclusions about the cause of the accident. "Despite our extensive investigation to date, we may never know exactly what happened to Joshua."

    The Drop Zone Stunt Tower reopens Saturday.

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    Conklin Shows charged with safety violations in Wave Swinger accident

    (Monday, November 1, 1999) - The Technical Standards and Safety Authority of Canada has charged Conklin Shows with safety violations in connection with a September accident which left 18 people injured. Conklin and Garrett, Ltd. is charged with replacing parts of its Wave Swinger ride with parts which were not designed for use on the ride. They are also charged with failing to properly examine an amusement device, and failing to replace worn, defective, or broken components.

    The accident happened at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto on September 1. Four lifting ropes inside the Wave Swinger ripped, causing the ride to collapse.

    In a statement from the ride's manufacturer, Zierer Rides president Josef Zierer said that Conklin Shows "had replaced the original lifting ropes with ropes manufactured locally, which were not of the same quality and specifications. The lifting ropes we use for the Wave Swinger are especially designed and calculated for this ride and should always be replaced with the same type to avoid such accidents."

    A Toronto court will hear the case on December 14.


    B&B dropped, new fair operator sought: "We want people to be safe"

    (Sunday, October 31, 1999) - The New Mexico State Fair Commission is searching for a new fair operator after it cancelled a contract with B&B Amusements. Fair officials have announced that they will search for a new midway operator this week.

    Fair Commission Chairman Tom Tinnin told Albuquerque's Eyewitness NewsChannel 4: "We want people to be safe. A lawsuit, we can deal with that. We cannot deal with a death."

    Officials from Murphy Brothers Exposition, Wade Shows, and Bill Hames Shows, the three midway operators who lost the original bid to B&B Amusements, say that their companies are still interested in operating the state fair midway. It is expected that all three companies will will enter new bids for the contract.

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    State voids contract with B&B: "They did not tell the truth"

    (Saturday, October 30, 1999) - A contract between B&B Amusements and the New Mexico State Fair has been voided by state attorney general Patricia Madrid. The action comes one week after fair officials granted B&B Amusements a 3-year contract to operate the fair's carnival midway.

    The Albuquerque Journal reports that Madrid revoked the contract because the company failed to report a fatality which occured at a B&B carnival in California in August, 1998; that the company failed to inform fair officials that a Texas grand jury was currently reviewing evidence in connection with a fatality at another B&B carnival in Texas in March, 1998; and that the company failed to report that it was in legal negotiations with the National Consumer Product Safety Commission after the commission charged B&B with having violated the Consumer Product Safety Act in connection with the Texas accident.

    "I think that this company has withheld material facts, most specifically the death of a 13-month-old child in California," Madrid told the Albuquerque Journal. "They did not tell the truth, and the state will not honor this contract. It is void as of now."

    The Journal also reports that B&B owners Stephen and Robert Merten told B&B spokesman David Margulies: "Let's get the meanest, toughest lawyer and sue them."

    B&B did report 74 accidents dating back to April 1997, including the 1998 Texas Himalaya fatality. The company did not report the 1998 accident which left a boy dead at a B&B carnival in California. The company says that the accident was not listed because it happened on a ride which was not being operated by B&B Amusements. The ride in question, a kiddie train ride, was being operated by Third Generation Enterprises, a company hired by B&B. Investigators determined that B&B was not at fault for the accident.

    Margulies claims that the Mertens informed fair officials about the Texas grand jury investigation at a meeting in September. He also claims that fair officials had asked only for reports of accidents which occured within the past year, and that, since the company's list of accidents was dated September 2, 1999, the 1998 California fatality was not included on the list because it happened on August 30, 1998.

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    Senator says B&B failed to disclose legal proceedings to fair officials

    (Wednesday, October 27, 1999) - New Mexico State Fair officials have told state senator Shannon Robinson that B&B Amusements, the company that the fair contracted for its next three years of operation, failed to inform them that a Texas grand jury is currently collecting and reviewing evidence in connection with the company's fatal Himalaya accident in 1998. The Albuquerque Journal reports that the senator is calling upon the fair to revoke its contract with the company.

    Robinson also says that B&B failed to inform fair officials that they had been warned about the Himalaya's safety restraints, and that the company failed to disclose information about another fatal accident which killed a 13-month-old boy at a fair in California in 1998. That accident happened on a kiddie train ride owned by Third Generation Enterprises, a company hired by B&B Amusements. An attorney for B&B said that the company had been cleared of any wrongdoing in connection with that death.

    According to the Albuquerque Journal, the fair contract mandates that bidders "describe in detail" any legal judgments which have been rendered against it, whether any patrons have been injured on rides, and whether any lawsuits are pending.

    Robinson says that B&B told fair officials that its legal involvement in the B&B case had ended. Just last week, Brian Kingston, Assistant District Attorney in Travis County, Texas, confirmed that a grand jury is currently seated and reviewing evidence in the case against B&B Amusements.

    A spokesman for the New Mexico State Fair says that all legal options are being explored.

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    Riverside raft accident could not have been foreseen, say experts

    (Tuesday, October 26, 1999) - Investigators of August's "Blizzard River" accident at Riverside Park in Agawam, Massachusetts have concluded that no one could have foreseen the series of events which caused one of the ride's rafts to flip over, injuring eight people. They believe that the raft flipped after a current failed to carry it up a slight incline. The raft stalled, then tilted and was ultimately pushed over by a flow of water caused by another raft.

    The ride has been modified and is scheduled to reopen this weekend. Safety experts say that the new modifications make it impossible for a similar-type accident to happen again.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    "I would never let my children ride on that company's rides..."

    (Friday, October 22, 1999) - In an interview with New Mexico's Albuquerque Journal, Travis County Assistant District Attorney Brian Kingston told reporters that the investigation of last year's fatal Himalaya accident at a Texas fair continues, and that new criminal charges are possible. Initially, the investigation led to first-degree murder charges of nine people, including owners and employees of B&B Amusements, the company which operated the Himalaya. In May, prosecutors dropped the indictments saying that they needed more time to examine evidence.

    "It was sort of the more you looked, the more you found," Kingston told the Journal. "We thought it was better to investigate."

    In response to what he has learned in the process of the investigation, Kingston said, "I would never let my children ride on that company's rides after what I've learned."

    The accident happened on March 19, 1998 at the Austin-Travis County Livestock Show and Rodeo in Austin, Texas. A 15-year-old girl was killed and two other people were seriously injured after their safety bar broke off of their car, ejecting all three victims from their seat.

    B&B Amusements blames the victim for the accident and has received the support of many in the amusement industry, such as the Outdoor Amusement Business Association, and Carousel magazine, a publication of the National Carnival Association.

    Police investigating the accident found the ride to have been "poorly maintained," that the ride operators and owners had been advised of safety problems of the Himalaya before the incident, that the ride was being operated at "unsafe" speeds, that the restraint equipment was inadequate, that the use of cotter pins which were too small to hold the lap bars in place created an "unsafe" restraint system, and that this was known by the operators of the ride prior to the incident. They suggested that the accident was a case of criminally negligent homicide.

    A grand jury continues to collect and review evidence in Austin.

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    New Mexico State Fair hires B&B Amusements

    (Friday, October 22, 1999) - New Mexico's Albuquerque Journal reports that the New Mexico State Fair has contracted a new carnival operator: B&B Amusements. State Fair manager Kay Shollenbarger believes that B&B Amusements is a safe operator of amusement rides.

    Fair officials chose B&B over two other carnival operators, including Murphy Brothers Exposition which had been providing the midway rides and concessions for the fair since 1987.

    The Journal says that fair officials were "impressed by the company's safety record and quality of equipment." They were also impressed with the take B&B promised them: 43% of revenues.

    B&B owner Stephen Merten assured fair officials that, for his company, safety is "a high priority."

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    Owner of fatal Octopus ride acquitted

    (Wednesday, October 20, 1999) - The operator of an Octopus amusement ride which killed a girl in 1997 has been found not guilty of manslaughter. An Australian court acquitted 26-year-old Clayton Verne Taylor, owner of the ride, after Justice Greg James ruled that the degree to which Taylor was negligent was not high enough to support a manslaughter conviction. The prosecution charged Taylor with gross criminal negligence after they learned that the ride broke because of metal fatigue.

    The accident happened in February of 1997 during a fair at the Rylstone fairgrounds near Mudgee, Australia. A metal bearing cap cracked, causing one of the ride's steel arms to break. An 11-year-old girl was thrown from her seat and killed. Two other people were seriously injured.

    Prosecutors cannot appeal the verdict.


    Park to "get rid of" Wild Wonder ride

    (Thursday, October 14, 1999) - The owner of Gillian's Wonderland Pier, Jay Gillian, has announced that the park's Wild Wonder roller coaster will not be an attraction at the pier in 2000. Instead, the ride will be dismantled, sold, and relocated by its new owners. Speaking at an Atlantic City press conference, Gillian told reporters that once New Jersey state officials finish their investigation of the Wild Wonder coaster, "we'll definitely get rid of it out of respect for the family."

    Gillian did not say who had purchased the ride, or where the ride will be relocated.


    Deadly Octopus ride passed an inspection, says owner

    (Thursday, October 14, 1999) - In Sydney, Australia, an attorney for the 26-year-old owner of an Octopus amusement ride which killed a girl in 1997 told the Supreme Court that an engineer had inspected the ride just one month before the accident and that a certificate of inspection had been issued.

    The owner is charged with manslughter. He has pled not guilty.

    The accident happened in February of 1997 during a fair at the Rylstone fairgrounds near Mudgee, Australia. A bearing cap cracked, causing one of the ride's steel arms to break. An 11-year-old girl was thrown from her seat and killed. Two other people were seriously injured.


    Himalaya civil lawsuits settled

    (Tuesday, October 12, 1999) - The family of the 15-year-old girl who was killed after her safety bar broke off of a Himalaya ride at a 1998 Texas fair has settled lawsuits it filed against the ride's owner, inspectors, Travis County, and the Austin-Travis County Livestock Show and Rodeo.

    On March 19, 1998, Leslie Lane was riding the Himalaya with her brother and a friend. The three were flung from their seat after their safety bar broke off from their car. Lane was thrown into a wall and killed.

    B&B Amusements, the company that owned and operated the ride, blames Leslie Lane for the accident. In May, California's Orange County Register reported that a spokesman for B&B "suggested that the only way a rider could have been thrown from the ride was if she had tried to stand up." However, no eyewitnesses -- not even the ride operators -- reported having seen the girl stand up or misbehave in any way.

    B&B Amusements has received the support of many amusement industry organizations, including the Outdoor Amusement Business Association and the National Carnival Association.

    Police investigators concluded that the ride was "poorly maintained," that the ride operators and owners had been advised of safety problems of the Himalaya before the incident, that the ride was being operated at "unsafe" speeds, that the restraint equipment was inadequate, that the use of cotter pins which were too small to hold the lap bars in place created an "unsafe" restraint system, and that this was known by the operators of the ride prior to the incident. They suggested that the accident was a case of criminally negligent homicide.

    The civil lawsuits were filed in April on behalf of the girl, her brother, and her friend. The settlement was reached October 1. No details of the agreement will be made public. The judgment will be sealed.

    The criminal case against owners and employees of B&B Amusements and ride inpectors is still pending. A civil lawsuit filed against the ride's manufacturer is also pending.

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    Swing ride malfunctions, injures 2-year-old boy

    (Saturday, October 9, 1999) - A 2-year-old boy was injured after a children's swing ride malfunctioned at the Cabotfest fair in Cabot, Arkansas. The accident happened when a chain broke, causing the boy's seat to flip over. As the ride continued, the child's head and arms dragged across the ground. After the child's head hit a metal boarding ramp and a fence, the ride came to a stop. The boy suffered cuts and bruises, and was treated at an area hospital. Witnesses say that the ride operator tried to fix the chain before the police arrived at the scene.

    The carnival was owned and operated by Fun Time Shows of Doniphan, Missouri. The ride passed an inspection just one day earlier.


    Park safety legislation moves forward in U.S. House

    (Wednesday, October 6, 1999) - A bill which would restore authority to regulate the operation of amusement park rides to the National Consumer Product Safety Commission has been introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives. HR 3032 has been referred to the House Committee on Commerce. Ten co-sponsors, all democrats, have already signed on to HR 3032, which was introduced by Democratic Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts.

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    Davis signs California amusement park safety bill into law

    (Monday, October 4, 1999) - California Governor Gray Davis has signed into law a measure which regulates the operation of the state's amusement park rides. The new law mandates that parks must have their rides inspected annually by state-certified engineers. The bill also gives the state's Department of Industrial Relations the authority to inspect rides which caused an accident or are suspected of being unsafe, and shut down any ride which fails to pass the new state inspections.

    The measure was introduced by Democratic Assemblyman Tom Torlakson of Antioch in response to two deadly accidents; one last year at Disneyland, and the other in 1997 at Waterworld USA. Records show that there have been more than 12 fatal accidents at California amusement parks since 1973.

    The bill also mandates that parks report all serious injuries and fatalities to the state, and imposes a fine of $25,000 for any violation which leads to serious injury or death. In addition, all parks must carry $1 million in liability insurance and institute safety training programs for park employees. The new law also mandates that parks repair or modify any ride which fails to pass an inspection before the ride can reopen.

    California joins 38 other states which already have fixed-site amusement park rides under state regulations.

    The amusement industry opposed the new state regulations, and also opposes any new federal regulations.

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    Three injured after Geauga Lake roller coaster malfunctions

    (Sunday, September 26, 1999) - At Geauga Lake amusement park in Aurora, Ohio, three people suffered minor injuries after two roller coaster cars collided. The accident happened on the park's Big Dipper roller coaster after a spring, located between the two cars, disengaged as the ride was ending and the cars were returning to the loading station. The cars were moving less than 5 miles per hour at the time they bumped each other.

    Those injured were treated and released from an area hospital.

    Park officials say that the spring will be replaced and that the ride will reopen next weekend.


    Roll-O-Plane strands riders at Rhode Island carnival

    (Friday, September 24, 1999) - At a carnival in Lincoln, Rhode Island, four people were left stranded for nearly two hours after a 4-inch-wide pin detatched from the main section of a Roll-O-Plane ride. The passengers riding in the ride's other 4-seat cabin were unloaded normally, however, firefighters were called to the scene to rescue the four passengers who were left stranded aloft. No one was injured.

    The ride is owned and operated by Modern Amusement of Bristol, Connecticut.

    The incident is under investigation.


    IAAPA: states have amusement park safety under control

    (Wednesday, September 22, 1999) - As efforts begin to restore authority to regulate the operation of amusement park rides to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) is questioning conclusions being drawn from recent government statistics, and questioning whether new federal regulations would improve the industry's safety record.

    "In light of the existing layers of inspection and the remarkable safety record that has resulted, we think the present regulatory system works very well and we question whether federal regulation of fixed-site rides would improve upon this record," says IAAPA spokesman Joel Cliff.

    In response to the latest CPSC statistics which show an 87% increase in the number of amusement park ride injuries since 1994, Cliff cautions against drawing any conclusions about an increase in the actual number of occurences of accidents and injuries.

    "According to our sources at the CPSC, the bulk of that increase was largely due to changes and improvements in their methods of data collection and analysis rather than an actual jump of 1500 injuries in one season. As you can see by the numbers from the past three years, the figures have remained fairly consistent, and have even gone down."

    CPSC records show that fixed-site amusement rides were responsible for an estimated 4,300 injuries in 1996; 4,600 in 1997; and 4,500 in 1998. There were an estimated 2,400 injuries in 1994.

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    CPSC: injuries from amusement park rides up 87% since 1994

    (Tuesday, September 21, 1999) - In a letter to Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Ann Brown, the chairwoman of the National Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), reports that injuries resulting from amusement park rides surged 87% between 1994 and 1998. Markey is preparing to introduce federal legislation which would give the CPSC the authority to regulate the operation of amusement park rides in the United States. Markey is the top Democrat on the House Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade and Consumer Protection.

    Brown reports that in 1994, there were an estimated 2,400 injuries which occurred at amusement parks and led to emergency treatments. By 1998, the number had risen to 4,500, an increase of 87%.

    At present, the CPSC only has jurisdiction over carnival rides which move from state to state. The CPSC used to regulate all ride operation, including that of fixed-site amusement park rides, however, in 1981, Congress exempted all fixed-site amusement rides from federal regulation.

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    Wave Swinger accident not the fault of manufacturer

    (Tuesday, September 21, 1999) - Officials have determined that this month's collapse of a fair ride in Canada was not caused by a failure of the ride's hydraulic system. After investigating the accident, Zierer Rides, the manufacturer of the Wave Swinger, has concluded that there were no problems with the ride's hydraulic system, but that four lifting ropes inside the ride had ripped. Early reports had indicated that the ropes ripped as a result of the collapse, however, the investigation led authorites to conclude that the ropes, which were not designed by Zierer and not in accord with Zierer's specifications for the ride, were the sole cause of the collapse.

    "The customer had replaced the original lifting ropes with ropes manufactured locally, which were not of the same quality and specifications. The lifting ropes we use for the Wave Swinger are especially designed and calculated for this ride and should always be replaced with the same type to avoid such accidents," says Josef Zierer of Zierer Rides.

    Authorities in Canada have ultimately come to this conclusion and have declared that the Zierer Company was not to blame for the mishap.

    Sixteen children were injured in the accident, none seriously.


    Ride operator injured at Connecticut fair

    (Sunday, September 5, 1999) - At the Woodstock Fair in Woodstock, Connecticut, a 23-year-old man was seriously injured after being struck by the ride he was operating. The victim was operating the Sea Dragon, a swinging ship which swings passengers into the air in a pendulum-type motion. The ship struck him in the back of the head as it swung over the platform.


    Boy killed in fall from Octopus ride

    (Sunday, September 5, 1999) - A 4-year-old British boy was killed after being thrown out of an Octopus ride at a carnival in Torrevieja, Spain.


    Boy injured after falling out of Six Flags ride

    (Saturday, September 4, 1999) - A 9-year-old boy was injured after he was thrown from the Scat-A-Bout ride at Six Flags Marine World theme park in Vallejo, California. Witnesses say that the child somehow slipped underneath his safety restraint bar. After clinging to the car for some time, the child was thrown into a flower bed which was adjacent to the ride.

    Park officials say that the ride was operating properly, and that the child's safety bar was locked.


    Industry to fight any federal attempts to improve safety at parks

    (Saturday, September 4, 1999) - In response to proposed federal legislation which would restore authority to regulate amusement park rides to the National Consumer Product Safety Commission, John Graff, president of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, says that he will question whether the move would be in the best interest of the public. Graff's comments echo the thoughts of many in the industry who believe that amusement rides are safe enough.

    Yesterday, Democratic Congressman Edward Markey of Massachusetts announced that he will introduce the new federal legislation, which would give the CPSC the authority to regulate the operation of all amusement park rides in the United States.

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    Authority to regulate amusement rides could be restored to CPSC

    (Friday, September 3, 1999) - Democratic Congressman Edward Markey of Massachusetts has announced that he will introduce federal legislation which would give the National Consumer Product Safety Commission the authority to regulate the operation of all amusement rides in the United States. Representative Markey is the top Democrat on the House Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade and Consumer Protection.

    At present, the CPSC only has jurisdiction over carnival rides which move from state to state. The CPSC used to regulate all ride operation, including that of fixed-site amusement park rides, however, in 1981, Congress exempted all fixed-site amusement rides from federal regulation.

    Markey's legislation would give the CPSC the authority to set standards for rides, perform inspections, investigate accidents, recall unsafe equipment, and impose civil penalties.

    The CPSC supports the legislation.

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    California Senate votes for state oversight of amusement rides, 30-6

    (Friday, September 3, 1999) - The California Senate has approved legislation which would impose new amusement ride regulations throughout the state. In a 30-6 vote, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the measure, which was introduced by Democratic Assemblyman Tom Torlakson after a fatal 1997 waterslide accident at Waterworld USA park in Concord, California. The measure requires a yearly inspection of amusement parks by state officials, safety training for amusement park personnel, and annual reviews of amusement ride accident reports by the state.

    At present, the state only has jurisdiction over carnival rides.

    Under the measure, Los Angeles County would be exempt from state regulation because it already has an inspection program in place.

    It is expected that California Governor Gray Davis will sign the bill into law.

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    Florida inspectors to visit 73 amusement parks

    (Friday, September 3, 1999) - The Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commission has announced that state inspectors will visit 73 of Florida's amusement parks in the next two weeks to inspect amusement rides. The action comes after a string of amusement ride accidents and fatalities across the country.

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    Boy jumps from Shockwave coaster, claims he wasn't properly secured

    (Thursday, September 2, 1999) - At Paramount's King's Dominion theme park in Doswell, Virginia, a 13-year-old boy jumped out of the park's Shockwave roller coaster because he felt he was going to fall out of his car if it had continued through the ride. The boy slipped out from his safety restraint mechanism as the coaster train was climbing the lift hill. He jumped onto the ride's catwalk and was not seriously injured.

    The boy claims that he and several other riders tried to alert ride operators before the train left the station, but that the operators failed to respond.

    Park officials say that the ride was working properly at the time of the incident. The ride passed a subsequent inspection.

    On August 23, a 20-year-old man was killed after he fell out of the ride. Park officials fault the man for the accident, citing witnesses who saw the man acting unruly during the course of the ride.


    Fair ride collapses; 16 injured

    (Wednesday, September 1, 1999) - At the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, Canada, 16 children were injured after a ride collapsed. The ride, known as the Wave Swinger, is a circular swing ride with a capacity of 48 passengers. Riders are seated in chairs which are attached to the ride's overhead arms by metal chains. The ride rotates about a central hydraulic structure, which lifts and lowers riders through the air during the ride.

    The accident happened after the ride's four lifting ropes broke. The owners of the ride had replaced the manufacturer's original lifting ropes with ropes manufactured locally, which were not of the same quality and specifications.

    Fourteen children, aged 5 to 15, were taken by ambulance to area hospitals. Two other children were treated at the scene. Injuries ranged from cuts and bruises to head, neck, and back injuries. None of the children's injuries appears to be life-threatening.

    The ride, owned and operated by Conklin Shows, was operating at full capacity when the accident happened. It had been inspected once on Tuesday and once on Wednesday.

    The accident marks the second time in one week that a Conklins Shows ride malfunctioned. On Friday, two people were injured when a Conklin ride broke at the Central Canada Exhibition fairgrounds in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. That accident happened when a steel arm, which carried the victims' car, broke off from the ride and fell to the ground.

    Both rides have been shut down and the accidents are under investigation.


    Six Flags park installs seat belts on Giant Drop ride

    (Wednesday, September 1, 1999) - Six Flags Great America theme park in Gurnee, Illinois has installed seat belts on its Giant Drop free-fall ride. The ride is identical to the Drop Zone free-fall ride at Paramount's Great America in Santa Clara, California. Two weeks ago, a 12-year-old boy was killed after he fell out of the Drop Zone. It is not yet known how the boy fell out of his car.

    The Giant Drop and Drop Zone rides are already equipped with shoulder harnesses. Representatives from Intamin AG, the designer of the rides, have said that the Drop Zone was operating properly when the accident happened.

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    Illinois to reinspect all roller coasters

    (Wednesday, September 1, 1999) - Officials from the Illinois Department of Labor have announced that they will reinspect every roller coaster operating in the state of Illinois. The action comes after a string of amusement ride and roller coaster accidents.

    Before a new amusement park ride can operate in Illinois, it must be inspected by the state. Each ride must also pass a yearly inspection, and is subject to random inspections by the state.

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    Two dead after New Jersey roller coaster malfunctions

    (Saturday, August 28, 1999) - A 39-year-old mother and her 8-year-old daughter are dead after an accident on the Wild Wonder roller coaster at Gillian's Wonderland Pier in Ocean City, New Jersey. Police have determined that the accident was caused by mechanical malfunction.

    The accident happened when the car rolled backwards for 30 feet and rounded a sharp curve. The centrifugal force of the curve ejected the victims from the ride. Ultimately, the car collided with a stationary car in the loading station.

    One other child and one other adult were also injured in the crash. They were treated at a local hospital and released shortly thereafter.

    The coaster is one of the park's newest attractions, having opened in July. The Wild Wonder is a newly-manufactured, mini, steel "wild mouse" coaster, built by Zamperla Rides, whose local offices are located in Parsippany, New Jersey. Representatives from the company will help investigators inspect the ride and determine how the accident happened.

    The ride passed two inspections, including one state inspection which took place less than two months ago.

    The ride has been shut down pending an investigation of the accident.


    Ride malfunctions at Canada fair; 2 injured

    (Friday, August 27, 1999) - At the Central Canada Exhibition fairgrounds in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, two people were injured when a ride malfunctioned. The accident happened when a steel arm, which carried the victims' car, broke off from the ride and fell to the ground. The ride, called the Windjammer, was being operated by Conklin Shows.

    The ride has been shut down.


    Cedar Point roller coaster malfunctions; no injuries

    (Thursday, August 26, 1999) - At Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio, a chain which lifts cars to the top of a roller coaster broke. There were passengers on board the ride, however no one was injured. The accident happened on the park's Corkscrew roller coaster.

    The ride has been shut down. Park officials say they are not sure when the ride will reopen.


    Roller coaster malfunctions, stalls; riders stranded for hours

    (Wednesday, August 25, 1999) - A roller coaster at Six Flags Marine World theme park in Vallejo, California stalled mid-ride, leaving 28 passengers stranded for hours. Firefighters were called to the scene and used a cherry picker to rescue the riders.

    The incident happened on the park's 125-foot-high Boomerang roller coaster. Park officials say that a lifting device, which pulls the coaster from the station to the top of an incline, failed to release the train.

    No one was seriously injured.

    Boomerang was manufactured by Vekoma International of Holland. It opened at Marine World last year.


    Paramount's Carowinds, Canada's Wonderland close rides

    (Wednesday, August 25, 1999) - Paramount's Carowinds and Paramount's Canada's Wonderland theme parks have closed 3 rides in response to two fatal accidents which occurred at two other Paramount theme parks since Sunday. Paramount's Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina, has closed its Drop Zone thrill ride, while Paramount's Canada's Wonderland in Toronto has closed its own Drop Zone ride, and Skyrider, a stand-up steel roller coaster similar to the one from which a man fell to his death earlier this week.

    On Sunday, a boy was killed after he fell from the Drop Zone ride at Paramount's Great America theme park in Santa Clara, California. On Monday, a man was killed in an accident involving "Shockwave," a stand-up, steel roller coaster at Paramount's Kings Dominion in Doswell, Virginia.

    In Ohio, Paramount's Kings Island theme park has closed two of its own rides: Drop Zone, and King Cobra, another stand-up steel roller coaster similar to Shockwave. Paramount now has seven rides shut down at five parks throughout North America. Paramount officials say that the rides will remain closed until the investigations of this week's accidents have concluded.


    Paramount: no operator error, no malfunction

    (Wednesday, August 25, 1999) - While the cause of Monday night's fatal accident on a roller coaster at Paramount's Kings Dominion theme park is still unclear, park officials are citing witness accounts which indicate that the victim's unruly behavior may have caused him to fall out of the ride. The 20-year-old man was riding the park's Shockwave stand-up roller coaster late Monday night when he apparently fell from his car. Officials have released very few details about the incident, but say that the man was not in the car when the train returned to the station.

    Park officials also say that the ride's restraint system was working properly, and that there were no errors made by ride operators which would have contributed to the accident.

    Representatives from the ride's designer, Togo Rides of Cincinnati, Ohio, are helping park and police officials determine the cause of the accident. The ride will remain closed throughout the investigation. Paramount has also closed "King Cobra," a similar stand-up-style roller coaster at its Kings Island theme park in Ohio.


    Witnesses: safety bar wasn't checked; boy struggled to stay inside car

    (Tuesday, August 24, 1999) - A man who witnessed Sunday's accident at Paramount's Great America theme park told the San Francisco Chronicle that the 12-year-old boy who was killed after falling out of the Drop Zone thrill ride struggled to stay inside the car after his shoulder harness flew open during his ride. The witness claims that the harness opened as the boy's car was being stopped by the ride's braking system, and that he saw the child struggle to remain secured in his seat.

    Another witness, who was riding next to the victim, claims that no one checked to make sure the shoulder harnesses had been secured. He, too, says that the boy fell out as the brakes began to bring the car to a stop.

    Park officials say that they found the boy's shoulder harness to be locked when they inspected the car after the accident happened, however, the harness may have locked as a result of the forces exerted on the car as it was stopped by the brakes.

    The accident is under investigation. The Drop Zone remains closed.

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    Paramount's Kings Island closes Drop Zone, King Cobra rides

    (Tuesday, August 24, 1999) - Paramount's Kings Island theme park has closed two rides in response to two recent accidents at Paramount parks which left two people dead. Kings Island has shut down its Drop Zone freefall ride and King Cobra stand-up roller coaster. On Sunday, a boy was killed after he fell from the Drop Zone ride at Paramount's Great America theme park in Santa Clara, California. On Monday, a man was killed in an accident involving a stand-up roller coaster at Paramount's Kings Dominion theme park in Doswell, Virginia.

    The rides will remain closed until the investigations of the two accidents have concluded.

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    Man dies after accident at Paramount's Kings Dominion

    (Monday, August 23, 1999) - A 20-year-old man has died in an apparent accident on the Shockwave roller coaster at Paramount's Kings Dominion theme park in Doswell, Virginia. The Shockwave is a stand-up-style, single loop roller coaster. Park officials have released very few details about the accident, but say they are investigating.

    Shockwave was designed by Togo Rides International and opened in 1986. It reaches a height of 95 feet and speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.


    Knott's Berry Farm accident injures 5

    (Monday, August 23, 1999) - Five people were injured at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California, when a piece of wood struck them as they were riding the park's Ghost Rider roller coaster. None of the injuries is serious. The piece of wood, a 5-foot-long 2x2, came loose from the edge of the track and struck the riders as they passed by in their train.

    The Ghost Rider, which opened in December, will remain closed until it passes a safety inspection. The ride was designed and built by Custom Coaster Inc. of Cincinnati, Ohio.


    Boy, 12, killed in fall from ride at Paramount's Great America

    (Sunday, August 22, 1999) - A twelve-year-old boy was killed after he fell out of the Drop Zone Stunt Tower at Paramount's Great America theme park in Santa Clara, California. The ride, a freefall ride manufactured by Intamin AG of Switzerland, features cars which are hoisted up a 224-foot tall tower and then drop 129 feet, reaching speeds of up to 62 miles per hour. The cars are floorless, open-air cabins, and allow the riders legs to dangle beneath them throughout the ride. Electromagnetic brakes bring the cars to a gradual stop at the base of the tower.

    Park officials say that the victim's shoulder harness was locked, and that it remained in place during the accident. They also say that the boy had met ride safety requirements.

    Park officials have asked representatives from Intamin to help them investigate the accident. The Santa Clara police department is also investigating. The ride is closed indefinitely.

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    Employee dead after accident at Lake Compounce

    (Saturday, August 21, 1999) - A 16-year-old boy died Saturday from injuries he suffered at Lake Compounce amusement park in Bristol, Connecticut. On Friday, the boy was working as a ride attendant on the Tornado, a spinning ride more commonly known as the Scrambler. The accident happened when the boy stepped onto the ride before it had come to a complete stop. His legs got caught underneath the ride and he was dragged until the operator activated the emergency stop. The boy was left pinned underneath the ride from the waist down.

    Firefighters used inflatable devices to lift the ride off of the victim. After the boy was freed, he was transported by helicopter to a hospital, where he underwent surgery. His injuries included a head wound and broken bones, in addition to possible broken arms, dislocated shoulders, and multiple internal injuries.

    The state fire marshal inspected the ride and determined that it did not malfunction. Park officials had planned to operate the ride Saturday, but have decided not to, out of respect for the victim.

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    State orders Kiddie Park to close ride

    (Wednesday, August 12, 1999) - The Texas State Department of Insurance has ordered Kiddie Park of San Antonio to shut down its kiddie Ferris wheel ride. The action comes three days after one of the ride's cars flipped upside-down, injuring four children.

    Officials say that the door of the chilren's compartment was not properly secured, and that the accident happened when the door opened and caught on one of the ride's railings. The car flipped twice, causing the children to be thrown around inside their compartment.

    The 49-year-old ride will be shut down until it has been re-inspected by state officials.


    Premier Parks, Six Flags shut down all river rapids rides

    (Monday, August 9, 1999) - Premier Parks, parent company of the Six Flags theme park chain, has ordered that all river rapids rides be shut down at all its parks across the United States. The action comes in response to yesterday's accident at Riverside Park in Agawam, Massachusetts. Two people remain hospitalized in critical condition after their raft flipped over on the park's Blizzard River rapids ride.

    In March, one woman was killed and nine people were injured at Six Flags Over Texas after a raft capsized on the park's Roaring Rapids ride. A faulty inner tube was to blame for that accident.

    While both Riverside Park and Six Flags Over Texas are owned and operated by the same company, their river rapids rides were not designed by the same manufacturer. Roaring Rapids was designed and manufactured by Intamin AG of Switzerland, and Blizzard River was designed and manufactured by O.D. Hopkins Associates of Penacook, New Hampshire.

    A spokesman for Premier says that all of its 17 rapids rides at Premier and Six Flags theme parks across the country will remain closed until the investigation of yesterday's accident is completed.

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    Rapids ride raft overturns at Riverside Park; 6 injured

    (Saturday, August 7, 1999) - At Riverside Park in Agawam, Massachusetts, 6 people were injured when their raft capsized on the park's Blizzard River rapids ride. The ride is one of the park's newest attractions -- it was added to the park this year. The raft overturned toward the end of the ride, about 50 feet from the loading station, flipping the six passengers upside down into the water.

    Two of the victims were treated and released from a local hospital, however two adults and two children remain hospitalized. The two adults are listed as being in critical condition, while one child is listed as being in serious condition, and the other in fair condition.

    Officials from the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety and Riverside Park are investigating the cause of the accident. The ride will remain closed until the investigation is completed.

    The accident is the third of its kind this season. In March, one woman was killed and ten others were injured after a raft capsized on the Roaring Rapids ride at Six Flags Over Texas, and less than two weeks ago, five people were injured at Visionland Park in Birmingham, Alabama, when their raft overturned on the park's "Wild River Gorge" attraction.

    While both Riverside Park and Six Flags Over Texas are owned and operated by the same company, their river rapids rides were not designed by the same manufacturer. Roaring Rapids was designed and manufactured by Intamin AG of Switzerland, and Blizzard River was designed and manufactured by O.D. Hopkins Associates of Penacook, New Hampshire.

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    Carnival worker electrocuted at Wisconsin carnival

    (Friday, August 6, 1999) - A carnival worker died from injuries he sustained in an accident at the Langlade County Fairgrounds in Antigo, Wisconsin on July 29. The man was electrocuted while working on the Avalanche, an amusement ride owned and operated by Calkins Amusements.

    Investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined that the man was electrocuted in the ride's control booth. Officials say that riders were never in any danger.

    A spokesman for Calkins Amusements said that all of the rides operating at the fair were inspected before the fair opened, and that all were found to be in safe condition.


    More than 100 riders injured on Mind Eraser coasters

    (Wednesday, August 4, 1999) - In a case pending against Six Flags Elitch Gardens, a judge ordered Premier Parks, Inc., parent company of the Six Flags theme park chain, to disclose the safety records of four of its Mind Eraser roller coasters located at parks owned by Premier throughout the U.S. The case stems from a lawsuit filed by a woman who claims she suffered multiple injuries as a result of riding the Mind Eraser at Six Flags Elitch Gardens in Denver, Colorado.

    Premier revealed that, between 1997 and 1998, there had been 128 injuries sustained by riders of Mind Eraser roller coasters: 31 at Elitch Gardens, 33 at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville, Kentucky; 42 at Riverside Park in Agawam, Massachusetts; and 22 injuries at Six Flags Darien Lake in Darien Center, New York.

    Lawyers for Elitch Gardens demanded that the detailed information contained in the reports be kept from the public under the terms of a strict confidentiality agreement.

    A spokeswoman for Elitch Gardens insists that the Mind Eraser coasters are safe.


    Five injured after rapids ride raft capsizes

    (Thursday, July 29, 1999) - At Visionland Park in Birmingham, Alabama, five people suffered injuries after their raft capsized on the park's Wild River Gorge attraction. Two of the ride's rafts were too close together during the ride, and they began bumping each other until one finally flipped over. The passengers became trapped upside-down in their seats beneath the surface of the water until park personnel freed them.

    Ride operators are supposed to leave a 20-second interval between each raft when dispatching them from the loading station.

    All five victims were treated and released from a local hospital.

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    Two injured at Ohio fair

    (Wednesday, July 28, 1999) - At the Shelby County Fair in Sidney, Ohio, two females were injured when the Super Trooper ride they had been on restarted as they were exiting from the ride. The operator had stopped the ride, then began to unload passengers. As the operator was helping the two victims off the ride, a child pushed a lever on the ride's control panel and restarted the ride. One victim was knocked to the ground and the other fell back into the ride. They were both treated and released from a local hospital.


    Kansas City roller coaster malfunctions, derails

    (Saturday, July 17, 1999) - At Worlds of Fun amusement park in Kansas City, Missouri, several people were injured after the last two cars of a roller coaster train derailed. The accident happened on the park's Orient Express roller coaster. Eight people were treated at local hospitals. None of their injuries is life-threatening.

    Twenty-five firetrucks and at least seven ambulances responded to the scene. Firefighters rescued the four occupants of the derailed cars. The two cars of the six-car train were left dangling about 20-30 feet in midair at a 90-degree angle.

    Worlds of Fun is owned and operated by Cedar Fair L.P. of Ohio.

    The Orient Express is a multi-element steel roller coaster designed and manufactured by Arrow Dynamics of Clearfield, Utah. The ride is 19 years old.


    Universal Studios settles Jurassic Park lawsuit

    (Monday, July 12, 1999) - Universal Studios Hollywood has settled a lawsuit filed against it by a California woman who claims she suffered chest injuries as a result of riding the park's Jurassic Park ride in 1997. Details of the settlement were not disclosed.

    The woman claims she was injured as the force of the boat entering the pool of water at the end of the ride threw her into an incorrectly fastened, and inadequately padded safety restraint.

    The park has since modified the ride. All restraining bars are now heavily padded.


    Mind Eraser coaster leads to Elitch Gardens lawsuit

    (Saturday, July 10, 1999) - A Denver woman is suing Six Flags Elitch Gardens over injuries she allegedly received on the park's Mind Eraser roller coaster. The lawsuit claims that the woman's shoulder harness restraint failed to hold her in place, and that she struck her head repeatedly during her ride. The woman claims that her ride caused her a bloody eye, severe headaches, nausea, vision problems, stomach cramps, slurred speach, and long- and short-term memory loss. She also claims that she may have lost consciousness during her ride.

    The lawsuit charges the park with failing to warn riders about the potential dangers of the ride -- dangers which they knew existed. At least 21 other people were injured on the ride in 1997, including one person who was taken by ambulance to a local hospital on the same day which the woman filing suit says she was injured. Another Mind Eraser coaster, located at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville, Kentucky, caused 54 injuries to riders over the past three years. Both parks are owned by Premier Parks of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

    Attorneys for Elitch Gardens have asked that the case be dismissed. The park insists that the ride is safe.


    Operators could be blamed for Thunderbolt malfunction

    (Friday, July 9, 1999) - Investigators say that ride operators could be to blame for Thursday night's Thunderbolt roller coaster malfunction at Kennywood Park. An inspection of the ride led investigators to conclude that there are no mechanical problems with the ride, and that the braking system is functioning properly.

    The accident happened in the ride's boarding station. As one of the ride's trains was being loaded with passengers, the other train, which was finishing its run, failed to stop as it entered the station, and collided with the stationary train, sending it through the station and out onto a section of track. About 30 people were injured in the crash.

    The ride is equipped with automatic and manual brakes, both of which passed a mechanical inspection. The ride has passed park and state inspections and has been re-opened.


    Thirty injured after Kennywood roller coaster malfunctions

    (Thursday, July 8, 1999) - At Kennywood Amusement Park in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, 30-35 people were injured after one of the trains of the Thunderbolt roller coaster collided with another. Park officials said that none of the injuries is life-threatening.

    The Thunderbolt is 75-years-old and was renovated in the late 60's.


    Coaster car derails, strands riders

    (Saturday, June 19, 1999) - Four people were left stuck on top of a roller coaster at Steel Pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey, after their car derailed on a 40-foot-high section of track. They were rescued by local firefighters who secured the car, then brought the riders to safety.

    There were no injuries.


    One killed, eight injured after car flies off Himalaya ride at Coney Island

    (Friday, June 11, 1999) - At Coney Island Amusement Park in Brooklyn, New York, a 17-year-old girl was killed in an accident on the park's Super Himalaya amusement ride. The girl suffered massive internal injuries after her car flipped over, flew 10-15 feet, landed on another car, and ultimately pinned the victim to the track. Eight other people suffered minor injuries.

    Authorities are blaming the accident on a broken metal coupling, used to attach the ride's cars. The ride was traveling in reverse when the accident happened.

    The ride passed an inspection on March 27. The Super Himalaya is owned by Norman Kaufman. New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has called for all of Kaufman's rides to be re-inspected immediately.

    Ironically, the girl was riding in car number 19, the same number car from which another teenage girl was thrown to her death in a Himalaya accident in Texas last year.


    Disneyland settles Indiana Jones lawsuit

    (Thursday, June 3, 1999) - Disneyland has settled a lawsuit brought against it by a woman who claimed she suffered a brain injury as a result of riding the park's Indiana Jones ride. The amount of the settlement was not made public and will remain confidential.

    The woman, who had worked as a scientist at the University of Southern California, claims she suffered a coma after riding the Indiana Jones ride in 1995. She underwent four surgeries as a result of a torn brain stem and says her brain continues to leak fluid. She accused the park of negligence, saying that she was not adequately warned of the potential dangers of the ride.

    Disneyland says that the ride is safe and that the injuries the woman may have sustained are part of the "inherent risk" of riding a roller coaster.

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    Kentucky Kingdom roller coaster malfunctions again

    (Saturday, May 29, 1999) - At Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom theme park in Louisville, Kentucky, 26 people were left stranded for up to four hours after the Vampire roller coaster stalled. Firefighters were called to the park and used cherry pickers to rescue the riders. There were no injuries.

    The coaster train came to rest in the same area of track where it stopped in a similar incident on April 7.

    The ride passed one inspection on April 1, and another before it re-opened after last month's mishap. Park officials say that the ride will remain closed until it passes another inspection.


    Three injured after safety bar releases during ride

    (Sunday, May 23, 1999) - Three people were injured after their safety bar released while they were riding an amusement ride called Touch Down at a carnival in Jennings, Missouri. The three victims were thrown from the ride to the pavement. They were all hospitalized with what appeared to be non-life-threatening injuries.

    The carnival was owned and operated by Murphy Brothers Carnival.


    Bungee ride owner pleads not guilty

    (Friday, May 21, 1999) - Tom Conway, the lawyer representing Anderson Ventures and its owner, Doug Anderson, says that his client is pleading not guilty to charges which resulted from a fatal accident on a bungee-type ride operated by the company.

    The accident happened at the Central Canada Exhibition grounds in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, last year. A 21-year-old man was killed while riding a reverse-bungee ride called the Rocket Launcher. The man was launched over 130 feet straight up into midair, and then fell to the pavement after the harness, which attached the bungee cord to the victim, disengaged.

    The ride passed an inspection three days before the accident, but officials say that its owner made unauthorized modifications to the ride after the inspection. Conway says that the owner had done nothing wrong.

    The Technical Standards and Safety Authority of Ontario has charged Anderson and his company with four counts of safety violations, including: altering an amusement device through the use of an unapproved nylon extension strap, operating an amusement device using equipment that did not meet the technical specifications of amusement device regulations, and altering the approved design of an amusement device without submitting engineering changes. If found guilty, Anderson's company faces maximum fines of $100,000 for each violation.

    A trial date will be set on June 10.

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    Reports of safety hazards prompt another Disneyland investigation

    (Thursday, May 20, 1999) - The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating complaints from Disneyland employees who say that the condition of the electrical equipment used to power the Pirates of the Caribbean water ride could be dangerous. Water from the ride has been leaking down into a room which houses the control panels and switches used to regulate the ride's power. While maintenance workers have fixed the most serious leaks, OSHA investigators found a wet floor, rusting power boxes, and corroded panels and switches.

    OSHA officials are allowing the ride to continue to operate, and say that it will be some time before they issue a report.

    In March, OSHA fined Disneyland $12,500 for "serious violations" in connection with a fatal accident at the park in December.

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    Rider thrown from new Darien Lake roller coaster

    (Sunday, May 16, 1999) - At Six Flags Darien Lake theme park in Darien Center, New York, a 37-year-old man was ejected from the park's new Superman Ride of Steel roller coaster. The man was thrown from the ride as the train was finishing its run. He suffered only minor injuries and was hospitalized.

    The Superman coaster is the park's newest attraction; it was opened to the public on Saturday.

    Park officials say that the passenger restraint system was working properly, and that the weight of the rider, which was in excess of 300 pounds, could have been a factor. The ride will remain closed until it has been re-certified by state inspectors.

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    No criminal charges for Bell's, inspectors, in Wildcat accident

    (Friday, May 7, 1999) - After completing its investigation of the 1997 Wildcat roller coaster accident at Bell's Amusement Park in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Tulsa District Attorney's Office has ruled out the possibility of bringing second-degree manslaughter charges against the park and state ride inspectors. The Oklahoma Department of Labor had alleged that park owners violated the state's Amusement Ride Safety Act, because they used a material called Nylatron in the ride's anti-rollback devices, which was not in accord with the specifications set by the ride's manufacturer.

    On April 20, 1997, the Nylatron material on one the Wildcat's roller coaster cars shattered, causing the car to roll backwards down the lift hill and crash into another car which was approaching the chain lift mechanism. One boy was killed and six people were injured in the crash.

    The park settled civil lawsuits with victims last year, and has discontinued all usage of Nylatron.


    B&B: accident was victim's fault

    (Tuesday, May 4, 1999) - Officials from B&B Amusements are now blaming fifteen-year-old Leslie Lane for last year's fatal Himalaya accident in Texas. California's Orange County Register reports that B&B officials "suggested that the only way a rider could have been thrown from the ride was if she had tried to stand up." Lane was riding the Himalaya at a fair in Texas last year when she was flung from her seat into a wall. She died of blunt head injuries at the scene. She was riding with her 9-year-old brother and a 16-year-old friend.

    Officials did not say how the other riders might have been thrown from the car, or why the safety restraint lap bar ejected from the car with the victims.

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    Michigan carnival worker killed in accident

    (Sunday, May 2, 1999) - At a carnival in Saginaw Township, Michigan, a maintenance worker was killed after having been electrocuted while working on an amusement ride. The man, 25, was using a metal grease gun on an amusement ride called 1,001 Nights. He was working inside the structure of the ride when the grease gun made contact with some part of the ride which had an electrical current running through it. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

    Police called the death accidental, and say that there is nothing that indicates that there was any kind of malfunction.

    The man was employed by McDonagh's Amusements, the company which operated the carnival. The ride was inspected after the accident and found to be in safe operating condition. It was opened to patrons just hours after the accident had occurred.


    Prosecutors extend Himalaya investigation, dismiss indictments

    (Friday, April 30, 1999) - Prosecutors in Travis County, Texas, have dropped murder indictments which they had brought against nine people in connection with the death of the 15-year-old girl who was killed at the Austin-Travis County Livestock Show and Rodeo last March. The indictments charged the carnival owners, ride operators, maintenace workers, and safety inspectors with "knowingly and intentionally" causing the death of the victim. They have all been dropped, pending a further, extended investigation.

    Prosecutors say that they need more time to examine the evidence, and that the extended investigation will ultimately lead to some type of criminal charges.

    "As we re-examined our evidence, we learned of possible new evidence, and it became clear that a tremendous amount of additional investigation will be necessary to ensure that those who are responsible for the tragic death of Leslie Lane and the injuries of two other children are held criminally accountable."

    Police investigators concluded that the ride was "poorly maintained," that the ride operators and owners had been advised of safety problems of the Himalaya before the incident, that the ride was being operated at "unsafe" speeds, that the restraint equipment was inadequate, that the use of cotter pins which were too small to hold the lap bars in place created an "unsafe" restraint system, and that this was known by the operators of the ride prior to the incident. The girl's safety bar broke off from her car while the ride was whirling at high speeds. The victim was thrown from the car and into a wall. The lap bar was later found underneath her body. Investigators found that the lap bar broke off from the car "at all three points of attachment." Police suggested that the evidence points to a case of criminally negligent homicide.

    The victim's family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the carnival owners, the ride's manufacturer, ride inspectors, and the Travis County Livestock Show and Rodeo.

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    Deflated inner tube, broken cord to blame for Roaring Rapids accident

    (Tuesday, April 20, 1999) - After a month-long investigation of the Roaring Rapids ride at Six Flags Over Texas theme park in Arlington, Texas, safety experts from six different amusement industry firms have concluded that a deflated inner tube and a broken bungee cord are to blame for last month's fatal accident in which a raft capsized, then trapped its passengers underwater. One woman was killed and ten people were injured.

    Investigators concluded that several of the air chambers located within the inner tube of the raft had deflated, causing the raft to ride low in the water and to tilt to one side. As the raft passed over an incline, the deflated inner tube became lodged against a pipe which runs underneath the surface of the water, along the ride trough. The pipes are used to create the rapids effect along the surface of the water throughout the ride. The force of the water flowing from behind the raft, which was stopped at an angle, ultimately caused the raft to flip over.

    The force of the rushing water may also have caused a bungee cord, used to attach the seating unit to the inner tube, to break, causing the two raft parts to separate.

    Inspectors have not determined the cause of the air leaks, but say that five adjacent air pockets within the inner tube had deflated, four of which were leaking air at the seams. All of the ride's inner tubes will be examined at a laboratory, where they will undergo pressure testing and be certified. Once the rafts are returned to the park and have been reassembled, they will undergo further testing.

    Six Flags says that it will install ramps throughout the course of the ride, which will prevent rafts from lodging against the pipes in the future. They will also use an additional roping device to secure the seating units onto the inner tubes. Also, in response to claims that the park's rescue efforts were delayed, the park will install flotation devices around the ride area, and a new emergency warning system in the loading station. The system will indicate to ride operators when the force of the water has slowed to a safe level whenever the pumps are shut off in an emergency situation. This will allow operators to enter the water and begin rescue efforts at the earliest possible time.

    The investigation included safety experts from Six Flags and Intamin AG, the designer and manufacturer of the Roaring Rapids ride. They also included inspectors from ATA Associates, Freeman Enterprises, PLH and Associates, and Richard J. Coulter and Associates.

    The park employees who were responsible for the maintenance and operation of the ride and its equipment were cleared of any negligence or liability by investigators.

    The ride will reopen after all safety modifications are made to the ride, and after all of the rafts are thoroughly tested.

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    Six Flags Over Texas sued in Roaring Rapids death

    (Monday, April 12, 1999) - The family of the woman who was killed on the Roaring Rapids water ride at Six Flags Over Texas theme park last month, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the park and the ride's manufacturer, Intamin AG of Switzerland. The suit alleges that the ride was defective, and that the park failed to properly inspect and maintain the ride.

    Six Flags and Intamin have both declined to comment on the case.

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    Sensor malfunction blamed for Carowinds accident

    (Friday, April 9, 1999) - Inspectors have found that Monday's collision on the Thunder Road roller coaster at Paramount's Carowinds theme park in Charlotte, North Carolina, happened after a ride sensor malfunctioned. The sensor, located in the ride's loading station, triggers the automatic brakes, which are then applied to the coaster trains. The sensor failed to communicate properly with the automatic braking system, and the brakes failed to stop the train before it collided with an another unoccupied train in the station.

    The ride was inspected hours before the accident, but inspectors found no problems.

    The sensor has been replaced and the ride has passed a state safety inspection. Park officials say that the 23-year-old ride will reopen after they are convinced that the new sensor and a backup sensor are working properly and consistently.


    Braking system malfunction blamed for Six Flags mishap

    (Friday, April 9, 1999) - Safety inspectors at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom theme park in Louisville, Kentucky, are blaming Wednesday's roller coaster mishap on a malfunction of the ride's automatic braking system. Twenty-seven people were left stranded 60 feet above the ground after their train stalled on the Vampire boomerang roller coaster. The train passed through the coaster station without stopping, then traveled uphill, passed through an inversion, then stalled and failed to make it through another. The train ultimately came to rest between the two inverted sections of track.

    The ride passed a state safety inspection just six days prior to the incident. All equipment was found to be working properly.

    The ride will reopen after inspectors have definitively concluded that the braking system failed, and after the ride's equipment performs consistently throughout testing procedures.


    Riders stranded for hours after roller coaster stalls

    (Wednesday, April 7, 1999) - A roller coaster at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom theme park in Louisville, Kentucky, stalled mid-ride, stranding 27 riders nearly 60 feet in the air. Some riders were trapped in their cars for nearly four hours. Firefighters were called to the scene to rescue the passengers.

    The incident happened on the Vampire roller coaster. The coaster train failed to complete what is known as a boomerang element. Similar to the more commonly known corkscrew element, a boomerang is a twisted U-shaped section of track which inverts riders twice. The train failed to pass through the second inversion, and came to a stop on the section of track which dips between the two inversions. Cars toward the front and back of the train were tilted at nearly 45 degrees, and the occupants of those cars were the first to be rescued. The riders of the middle cars were only slightly angled.

    Riders were given a stuffed animal and a bottle of water for their inconvenience. No one was injured.

    The coaster was manufactured 14 years ago by Vekoma International of the Netherlands. It was first operated at Lakeside Amusement Park in China. Five years later, it was dismantled and sold to Kentucky Kingdom. The coaster was reconstructed at Kentucky Kingdom and reopened there in 1990. It is the oldest of the park's roller coasters. Normally, it reaches speeds of up to 48 miles per hour and heights of up to 125 feet. It travels forward though three inversions, then backward through the same three inversions. The ride lasts less than a minute.

    Park officials will inspect and fix the ride before it is reopened, although it was inspected just hours before the incident occurred.


    Accident at Paramount's Carowinds injures 7

    (Monday, April 5, 1999) - At Paramount's Carowinds theme park in Charlotte, North Carolina, brakes on a roller coaster failed to stop a train from colliding with another. Seven people were injured as their train bumped into a stationary train in the loading station of the Thunder Road roller coaster. The other train was unoccupied. The victims were taken to local hospitals, however none of their injuries was serious.

    The ride will remain closed until park officials determine what caused the accident.


    Bungee ride owner gets two months to decide plea

    (Friday, March 26, 1999) - The Anderson Ventures Company of Delaware has been granted two months to decide how it will respond to charges filed against it by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority of Ontario, Canada. The company and its owner, Doug Anderson, have been charged with four counts of safety violations leading to the death of a 21-year-old man last summer at the Central Canada Exhibition grounds in Ottowa, Ontario. The charges include: altering an amusement device through the use of an unapproved nylon extension strap and operating an amusement device using equipment that did not meet the technical specifications of amusement device regulations.

    If found guilty, Anderson's company faces maximum fines of $100,000 for each violation.

    The ride, a reverse-bungee catapult ride called Rocket Launcher, consists of two steel towers with a bungee cord connected to each. The cords are stretched toward the ground where they are attached to the rider's safety harness and then released, sending the rider on a high-speed vertical launch into midair.

    The Rocket Launcher passed an inspection by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority on August 20, 1998, before the fair opened. Three days later, the victim boarded the ride, which had since been altered by the owner. A nylon extension strap connected the man's harness to the bungee cords. As the rider was launched, the harness disengaged. The man was killed in his 130-foot fall from midair to pavement.

    Attorneys representing Anderson say they are not yet sure what they will do.

    The pleas will be entered on May 20.

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    Disneyland cited for "serious violations," fined $12,500

    (Thursday, March 25, 1999) - After a three-month investigation of the fatal Christmas Eve accident at Disneyland, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the park for what it calls "serious" safety violations, and has ordered the park to pay $12,500 in fines.

    The accident happened as the park's Columbia sailing ship was docking. The vessel was traveling too fast at the time the operator roped it to the dock. A 9-pound metal cleat was torn from the ship's bow, and flew into a crowd of people, where it struck and killed a 33-year-old man.

    Disneyland was cited for failing to provide adequate training for the ride operator, and for overloading the bow cleat.

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    Park waited before calling 911

    (Thursday, March 25, 1999) - Investigators of Sunday's fatal accident at Six Flags Over Texas have learned that park officials waited as long as five minutes before reporting the emergency to 911. Phone logs show that someone from the park called 911 at 5:19pm on Sunday, about the time that the accident occurred. However, the caller hung up the phone and left no information with operators, who immediately returned the call, but received no answer. At 5:24pm, 911 operators again called the park, this time reaching someone who requested help. Emergency crews were then dispatched to the park. They arrived at the accident scene at 5:30pm, more than 10 minutes after the park's first opportunity to request help from dispatchers.

    Park officials say that they waited for their own paramedics to report to them before they called for help.

    Six Flags is reviewing its procedures.

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    Witnesses: staff took too long to rescue victims; park to review procedures

    (Wednesday, March 24, 1999) - Patrons of Six Flags Over Texas say that employees made no immediate attempt to rescue the victims whose raft capsized on the Roaring Rapids ride on Sunday. One woman told ride operators that she was a certified diving instructor, trained to handle emergency situations, but says that she was told not to help the victims, who were strapped in their seats upside-down, underwater, struggling to free themselves from underneath the raft. The woman says that ride operators panicked, and looked like they didn't know what to do. Seeing that there was no sign of any rescue effort, the woman decided to go out to the victims to help free them.

    Park officials say that ride operators are trained to respond to emergency situations, but that park policy restricts operators from leaving the dock and entering the water to help. Operators are instead trained to activate an emergency alarm, which alerts the park medical staff and other trained employees.

    A spokeswoman for the park claims that help arrived within two minutes, but some say that two minutes is too long a reponse time, and that timing is crucial when a person is drowning.

    Park officials admit that there were no life preservers, ropes, or poles nearby which might have assisted in the rescue effort. They say they will review the park's procedural policies.

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    CPSC, Reverchon announce repair program for Himalaya rides

    (Tuesday, March 23, 1999) - In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Reverchon Industries are offering new inspection and maintenance procedures and secondary restraints for approximately 25 Himalaya amusement rides operating in the U.S.

    CPSC has received reports of five incidents involving the Himalaya ride resulting in two deaths and three injuries. This repair program is the result of a CPSC investigation of these incidents. Most recently, one rider was killed and two others seriously injured when they were ejected from the ride in Austin, Texas, on March 19, 1998. The component failures appear to be the result of poor maintenance and inspection procedures. These rides should be properly inspected and maintained according to the manufacturer's specifications or serious injury and death to riders can occur.

    Reverchon is offering ride owners and state safety officials current inspection and maintenance guidelines, and a free tolerance gauge which measures wear on the lap bar latch. Ride operators also must install a speed control device and a secondary lap bar latching device. For more information, owners and state safety officials can contact Reverchon in the USA at (503) 694-2803 or Reverchon in France at 011-331-6074-9400.

    CPSC is working with state regulators to ensure that these safety repairs and inspections are carried out. In addition to this repair program, CPSC has issued three safety alerts to states for inspection of the Himalaya rides. While CPSC has jurisdiction over the mobile rides that move from place to place, states and local communities are responsible for inspections and oversight.

    While most states currently have some mandatory regulations or inspection program to ensure ride safety, the following states have no regulations and do not require that rides be inspected for safety: Alabama, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Vermont. The following states have insurance company or other private inspections, but do not require inspections by state or local regulators: Arizona, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, Tennessee and Texas.

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    Investigators search for answers in Texas

    (Tuesday, March 22, 1999) - Investigators at Six Flags Over Texas have learned that the ring-shaped seating structure of the raft which capsized and killed a woman on Sunday, separated from the rubber tubing on which it was mounted. They have not yet determined how it happened, or whether this caused the raft to capsize. Officials from Six Flags and its parent company, Premier Parks of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, are continuing the investigation, along with consultants from an independent ride-safety company, and officials from the company which manufactured the ride.

    It is not yet known how long the Roaring Rapids attraction will remain closed, however the park will be open this weekend as scheduled.

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    One killed, ten injured in accident at Six Flags Over Texas

    (Sunday, March 21, 1999) - At Six Flags Over Texas theme park in Arlington, Texas, one woman was killed and ten people were injured after their raft overturned on the park's Roaring Rapids water ride. The boat, which was carrying twelve passengers, capsized as it dipped through an area of rapids at a point toward the end of the ride. Riders, who were all wearing seat belts, became trapped upside-down underneath the capsized raft in four-foot-deep waters. Most of the occupants were able to quickly remove their seatbelts in an underwater struggle to escape from underneath the raft, but one rider, a 28-year-old Arkansas woman, was unable to remove hers. She drowned and was pronounced dead at an area hospital about a half-hour after the accident. Ten of the other riders were hospitalized with what appeared to be mostly minor injuries.

    While the cause of the accident is under investigation, Arlington police say that there is no reason to believe anyone was responsible.

    The woman was the first customer to have been killed at the park in its 38-year history.

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    Ohio park sued after death of girl

    (Thursday, March 11, 1999) - Parents of a girl who died at Geauga Lake Amusement Park in Aurora, Ohio, have filed a lawsuit against the park. The girl, 14, suffered a fatal asthma attack after having ridden the park's Double Loop roller coaster on May 23, 1997. The suit alleges that the park's medical personnel were unqualified, that they took 15-20 minutes to respond to the girl, and that they took too long to call an ambulance. The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

    The park denies any liability.


    Knoebels water slide brings injuries, lawsuits

    (Tuesday, March 2, 1999) - An attorney representing two girls who sustained vaginal injuries while riding a water slide at a Pennsylvania amusement park has discovered a history of complaints of injuries made by riders after they had ridden the same ride. Fifteen injuries have been reported to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Ride and Measurement Standards in recent years, including six other reports of injuries to riders' genital areas.

    The Speed Slide, also known as the Super Slide, is a 40-foot vertical drop water slide attraction at Knoebels Amusement Park in Elysburg, Pennsylvania.

    The lawsuit seeks $9,200 in medical costs and at least $50,000 in damages on behalf of one girl, 11, who suffered vaginal lacerations and had her cervix torn away from her vaginal wall as a result of riding the Speed Slide. The suit also alleges the girl suffered pain, embarrassment, humiliation, emotional distress, permanent vaginal scarring, significant blood loss, and loss of her daily activities. The suit also seeks $5,300 in medical costs and at least $100,000 in damages on behalf of the other girl, 12, who suffered a two-inch cut inside her vagina. Both girls underwent emergency surgery.

    The park is charged with negligence, failure to monitor the amount of force of the water and its effect on riders, failure to fix defects, and failure to provide adequate warnings to riders.


    Illinois Senate considers ride safety legislation

    (Monday, March 1, 1999) - A bill that would require amusement park and carnival operators to post signs warning riders of the potential dangers of amusement rides is now pending in Illinois. The bill would also give ride operators the right to refuse to allow some people access to rides, including intoxicated people and those who suffer from physical or mental illness.

    The bill would also require that signs inform people of the nearest location for reporting any accidents or injuries, and directions to the nearest first aid station. General safety guidelines and ride operational instructions would also be posted.

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    Power outage strands riders upside down at Houston fair

    (Sunday, February 28, 1999) - At the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in Texas, fifteen people were stuck upside down for several minutes on a ride that had stopped after electrical power was lost on the midway. There were no serious injuries, however six people complained of dizziness and neck pain caused by the pressure of the shoulder restraints holding them in place. They were all treated and released at a local hospital.


    California woman wins suit against Knott's Berry Farm

    (Monday, February 22, 1999) - A woman who fell from an amusement ride at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California, has been awarded $69,000 in damages by an Orange County jury.

    The woman, 36, fell from the park's Big Foot Rapids Ride in 1996. Her injuries included a fractured rib and bruises. She admitted that she stood up as the raft in which she was riding approached a waterfall, but her attorney contended that the accident would not have happened had her seat belt worked properly.

    Attorneys for the park argued that the accident would not have happened had the woman remained seated. They also argued that riders are warned to stay seated throughout the ride, and that the woman must have removed her seat belt.

    The woman was awarded the $69,000 in compensation for medical treatment, and mental and physical pain. She did not receive any punitive damages.

    The park will not make any modifications to the ride.

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    Worker killed at Walt Disney World

    (Sunday, February 14, 1999) - At Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, a maintenance worker was killed in an accident on the Magic Kingdom's Skyway cable-car ride. The man, 65, was cleaning one of the ride's loading stations shortly after the park had opened for the day. One of the gondolas swept him from the platform as it passed by him. The man grabbed onto the car and made several attempts to pull himself up inside, but was unsuccessful. After clinging to the car for about a minute, he finally decided to let go as it passed over a flowerbed near the Dumbo ride. He snapped some tree branches during his 40-foot fall to the ground. He was airlifted to a local hospital where he died a short time later.

    The ride had started several minutes before the accident, but was not carrying any passengers.

    The death has been ruled an industrial accident. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating and will determine whether the fault lies with the ride, the ride operator, or the victim. The ride reopened on Monday.


    Ride owner pleads not guilty to manslaughter charge in Australia

    (Friday, February 5, 1999) - The owner of the Octopus amusement ride which killed a girl in 1997 has pleaded not guilty to the charge of manslaughter in the Supreme Court of New South Wales, Australia. An 11-year-old girl was killed after one of the ride's steel arms broke during a fair at the Rylstone fairgrounds near Mudgee, Australia. Two other people were seriously injured.

    The case is expected to resume in April.


    Four injured after ride malfunction at Florida park

    (Sunday, January 24, 1999) - At King Richard's Fun Park in North Naples, Florida, four people were injured after an amusement ride broke. Two of the victims were treated and released at Naples Community Hospital while the two others were hospitalized with back injuries.

    The accident happened on a ride called the Rodeo Rider. Apparently, a cable separated from the ride, sending the victims' car crashing to the ground. Officials from the Fair Rides Inpections Bureau of the Florida Department of Agriculture are investigating. They have not yet determined what caused the cable to break off from the ride. Meanwhile, the ride has been ordered closed until the investigation is complete and repairs are made.

    The ride is said to have been fairly new and in good operating condition at the time of the accident. There are no records of any previous accidents involving the Rodeo Rider. The ride passed a safety inspection on January 6.


    Canadian officials charge bungee ride company, owner

    (Wednesday, January 20, 1999) - The Technical Standards and Safety Authority of Ontario, Canada has charged the Anderson Ventures Company of Delaware and its owner, Doug Anderson, with four counts of safety violations leading to the death of a 21-year-old man last summer at the Central Canada Exhibition grounds in Ottowa, Ontario. The charges include: altering an amusement device through the use of an unapproved nylon extension strap, operating an amusement device using equipment that did not meet the technical specifications of amusement device regulations, and altering the approved design of an amusement device without submitting engineering changes. If found guilty, Anderson's company faces maximum fines of $100,000 for each violation. The case is expected to be heard February 11, 1999.

    The ride, a reverse-bungee catapult ride called Rocket Launcher, consists of two steel towers with a bungee cord connected to each. The cords are stretched toward the ground where they are attached to the rider's safety harness and then released, sending the rider on a high-speed vertical launch into midair.

    The Rocket Launcher passed an inspection by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority on August 20, 1998, before the fair opened. Three days later, the victim boarded the ride, which had since been altered by the owner. A nylon extension strap connected the man's harness to the bungee cords. As the rider was launched, the harness disengaged. The man was killed in his 130-foot fall from midair to pavement.

    Officials have not yet determined whether the cause of the accident was mechanical failure or human error. They say that will be determined in court.

    Ottawa-Carleton police officials will decide whether to file criminal charges against Anderson.

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    Wisconsin jury awards $1 billion in case against go-kart manufacturer

    (Wednesday, January 13, 1999) - A jury in Milwaukee County has awarded $1 billion in punitive damages in a case against Johnson Kart Manufacturing of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

    The lawsuit was filed after a 32 year old woman died as a result of burns which she sustained in a go-kart accident in Pensacola, Florida in June of 1992. The accident happened after the kart in which the victim was riding, which was built and sold by the Milwaukee company, burst into flames. The woman was trapped in the car for more than two minutes, as gasoline poured from the 2-gallon fuel tank and burned all around her. Attempts to rescue the victim from the vehicle were unsuccessful, as the intense heat from the blaze kept back by-standers. The woman finally fell from the vehicle after the seat belt which she was wearing burned through.

    She was later airlifted to a hospital in Mobile, Alabama. Most of her body was burned through to the muscle. Many parts of her body were completely destroyed, including her nose, ears, and fingers. Despite all this, she remained conscious throughout the entire time she was trapped in the kart, and while she was being transported to the Mobile hospital. She remained there and underwent treatment for ten months, after which she was sent to a rehabilitation center in Texas. She eventually contracted an infection there and finally died on June 17, 1993.

    Martin Levin, the attorney who argued the case against Johnson Kart Manufacturing and its president, Melvin C. Johnson, described the woman's injuries as "the worst pain attainable by a human being."

    The woman's doctor described them as "beyond our wildest imagination."

    Johnson's company used Honda engines to power the karts, but installed two-gallon gas tanks on the cars instead of one-gallon tanks, which were the standard for the type of engines used. Washers were then welded onto the caps of the gas tanks to make the tanks more accessible for refueling. The evidence showed that the welding weakened the caps and made them more sensitive to the vibrating of the engine, which often caused them to loosen and fall off the cars. Workers at the Go-Kart track in Pensacola testified that several gas caps would fall from the cars each day, and that they told Johnson about the problem, but he repeatedly ignored their complaints. Johnson was not present at the trial, and no defense was presented.

    The jury returned its verdict to Circuit Judge Diane Stykes, who called the jury's action "stunning; absolutely stunning."

    Levin does not expect to collect much of the award from Johnson or his company. He said that his goal was to send a message to Johnson and to the industry.

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