2000 NEWS ARCHIVE

JANUARY

  • OABA raises $300,000 for B&B, Gill defense; list of donors kept secret (1/5/00)
  • Disney World ordered to pay nearly $1 million in Grand Prix collision (1/14/00)
  • Lake Compounce cited for "serious" violation of safety regulations (1/21/00)

    FEBRUARY

  • Mechanical failure blamed for Gillian's roller coaster deaths (2/4/00)
  • Paramount's Kings Island cited for 18 safety violations, fined $110,000 (2/4/00)
  • Gillian's to appeal fines (2/5/00)
  • Missouri considers tightening amusement ride regulations (2/5/00)
  • Alabama to weigh proposals for new amusement ride regulations (2/7/00)
  • Two injured at Florida State Fair; Avalanche ride shut down (2/18/00)
  • Girl, 11, burned on bumper car ride (2/20/00)
  • Anderson Ventures found guilty in Rocket Launcher death (2/22/00)

    MARCH

  • Congressman aims to limit g-forces on roller coasters (3/10/00)
  • Zamperla, Gillian's deny responsibility for fatal Wild Wonder accident (3/10/00)
  • Injured riders complained to Gillian's an hour before fatal accident (3/17/00)
  • Inflatable slide tips over at Texas carnival; 4 injured (3/25/00)
  • New Space Surfer ride malfunctions during testing at Kings Dominion (3/30/00)

    APRIL

  • Yo-Yo ride injures 6 at Pennsylvania carnival (4/1/00)
  • Consumer groups express support for federal legislation (4/13/00)
  • Girl injured on Disneyland's Roger Rabbit ride (4/18/00)
  • Anderson Ventures fined a record $145,000 for Rocket Launcher death (4/25/00)

    MAY

  • OSHA to investigate Skydiver collapse (5/7/00)
  • New Jersey considering additional amusement ride regulations (5/10/00)
  • $1.7 million settlement for victim's family in Waterworld USA fatality (5/13/00)
  • Man falls 300 feet to his death in bungee ride accident (5/15/00)
  • Markey pushes for "common sense federal oversight" of park rides (5/16/00)
  • Judge: B&B, Gill will stand trial; attorneys want evidence kept from jury (5/23/00)
  • One dead, two injured after car flies off Super Trooper ride at fair (5/27/00)
  • Girl, 12, killed in fall from Top Spin ride at fair (5/27/00)
  • Accident at Six Flags Ohio injures ride operator (5/30/00)
  • Teen dies after accident on inflatable ride (5/31/00)

    JUNE

  • Boy flung from roller coaster, hospitalized (6/1/00)
  • Swing kills boy at amusement park (6/1/00)
  • Inflatable Titanic slide collapses at fair; 5 injured (6/2/00)
  • Another rapids ride raft capsizes (6/15/00)
  • Ferris wheel collapses, kills worker (6/26/00)
  • Woman falls from roller coaster at Michigan's Adventure (6/30/00)

    JULY

  • Boy, 6, in critical condition after accident at Lake Compounce (7/1/00)
  • Girl, 3, killed in Illinois go-cart crash (7/1/00)
  • Mobile bungee rides banned in Ontario (7/5/00)
  • Boy injured in Lake Compounce water slide accident dies (7/7/00)
  • Seven hospitalized after chlorine spill at Six Flags Fiesta Texas (7/8/00)
  • Boy, 3, drowns at Texas water park (7/8/00)
  • Amusement Park Ride Safety Act gains support in U.S. House (7/15/00)
  • Two girls injured on ride at Six Flags Great America (7/19/00)
  • Man who lost wife, daughter in Gillian's accident seeking $275 million (7/19/00)
  • Bungee ride malfunctions at Daytona Beach; 2 injured (7/21/00)
  • Boy falls from Swinger ride at Illinois carnival (7/21/00)
  • Boy, 11, killed in fall from Blackpool roller coaster (7/22/00)
  • Authorities shut down carnival after accidents injure 11 (7/22/00)
  • Swing ride malfunctions at California carnival; 2 injured (7/22/00)
  • Man killed in fall from roller coaster (7/23/00)
  • Conklin Shows settles 1995 injury case for $775,000 (7/26/00)
  • Riders stranded for hours on Skylift ride at Iowa amusement park (7/29/00)

    AUGUST

  • Amusement park injuries up 95% since 1996; CPSC "very concerned" (8/1/00)
  • Disneyland's Space Mountain roller coaster derails, injures 9 (8/1/00)
  • Two women fall from Zipper ride at Minnesota carnival (8/3/00)
  • Worker loses leg in haunted house accident (8/16/00)
  • Witnesses of 1999 Great America fatality suing park (8/29/00)
  • Roller coaster malfunctions, crashes; 14 injured (8/31/00)

    SEPTEMBER

  • Ride collapses at fair in Australia; 37 injured (9/2/00)
  • Police: Lake Compounce, employees, parent, contributed to child's death (9/5/00)
  • Boy, 4, in critical condition after accident on Disneyland's Roger Rabbit ride (9/22/00)
  • Rider's jacket jams coaster to jam at California park (9/23/00)
  • Swing ride collapses in Nebraska; 10 injured (9/24/00)

    OCTOBER

  • Disneyland settles with family of victim of 1998 Columbia fatality (10/4/00)
  • Disneyland accident victim has brain injury (10/26/00)

    NOVEMBER

  • Man killed on Walt Disney World's Splash Mountain (11/5/00)
  • NO DEFENSE: B&B AMUSEMENTS OWNER PLEADS GUILTY TO MANSLAUGHTER (11/20/00)

    DECEMBER

  • Sizzler ride collapses at Australian fair; 2 injured (12/3/00)
  • Woman injured on Walt Disney World's Splash Mountain (12/20/00)
  • Boy breaks foot, leg on Disneyland's Alice in Wonderland ride (12/21/00)
  • State finds Disneyland's Roger Rabbit ride unsafe; ride ordered closed (12/30/00)


  • State finds Disneyland's Roger Rabbit ride unsafe; ride ordered closed

    (Saturday, December 30, 2000) - The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) has determined that a flawed ride design and operator error are responsible for the September 22 accident on Disneyland's Roger Rabbit ride, which left a 4-year-old boy with severe brain damage after he fell out of his car, then got pinned underneath a trailing car after it struck him.

    In a report released by OSHA's Permanent Amusement Ride Section, investigators concluded that the boy's lap bar was "probably" not fully lowered when he fell out of the car, and that ride operators failed to properly seat the boy in the car.

    Disney's own ride safety policy states that children should be seated on the outside of each car, where there is no opening. Instead, the boy was seated on the inside of the car, next to an unprotected opening which allows passengers to get in and out of the car. In its report, OSHA concluded "the most likely explanation for the accident is that the child fell through the entrance to the car."

    Furthermore, the state has ordered the ride closed until safety modifications are made. Modifications must include the addition of new doors to the sides of each car, and sensors which must be installed underneath each car and be able to stop the ride if an object was found to be obstructing a car's path. The report said that "the most significant contributor to the extent and severity of the injuries in this accident was the fact that the child was pinned under the rear vehicle after he fell out of the front vehicle."

    An OSHA spokesman says that, while a new ride safety law is in effect, it cannot be enforced because final regulations have not yet been approved. He said that no fines or citations will be brought against Disneyland in this case.

    In a statement made in response to the OSHA report, Disney denied any responsibility for the accident.

    "It seems to me very sad that it takes the government to tell them they have to make the rides reasonably safe for small children," said Tom Girardi, the lawyer representing the victim and his family.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    Boy breaks foot, leg on Disneyland's Alice in Wonderland ride

    (Thursday, December 21, 2000) - At Disneyland in Anaheim, California, a 15-year old boy suffered a broken leg and foot after an accident on the park's Alice in Wonderland ride. Police say they suspect the boy did not keep his feet in the car, and that one foot ended up getting caught between his car and a guard rail.

    The State Department of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating the accident.

    The boy was treated at a local hospital and released.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    Woman injured on Walt Disney World's Splash Mountain

    (Wednesday, December 20, 2000) - In Lake Buena Vista, Florida, an 80-year-old woman was injured in a fall from Walt Disney World's Splash Mountain log flume ride. The accident happened after the ride stopped. The woman fell into the water as she attempted to leave her boat and step onto the loading platform. She was taken to a local hospital, where she was treated for injuries to her legs.

    Park officials inspected the ride after the accident and say that no problems were found with the ride.


    Sizzler ride collapses at Australian fair; 2 injured

    (Sunday, December 3, 2000) - At a fair in Adelaide, Australia, a Sizzler amusement ride collapsed, injuring a 30-year-old woman and an 8-year-old boy. Witnesses say they saw an arm of the ride disengage while operating at full speed.

    The woman was thrown from her seat and was hospitalized with chest injuries. The boy was also hospitalized in stable condition. Six other people received minor injuries.

    Authorities are investigating the accident.


    NO DEFENSE: B&B AMUSEMENTS OWNER PLEADS GUILTY TO MANSLAUGHTER

    (Monday, November 20, 2000) - The owner of B&B Amusements has pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges in the case of the 1998 Texas Himalaya accident which left a 15-year-old girl dead. In addition to pleading guilty on his own behalf, Robert Merten, Sr. also pleaded guilty to manslaughter on behalf of his company.

    The guilty plea makes B&B Amusements the first carnival operator in American history to be held criminally responsible for the death of a patron which resulted from negligence. The manslaughter indictment said that the victim, 15-year-old Leslie Lane, was "restrained by a lap bar with an inadequate latching mechanism and a lap bar attachment that was inadequate to secure the lap bar to the amusement ride."

    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 Lane 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."

    Asked whether he was pleading guilty because the charge was true, Merten replied, "Yes."

    Under a plea agreement with county prosecutors, B&B Amusements will pay a $50,000 fine, and Merten will be sentenced to jail for 30 days and receive six years' probation. Merten has also waived his right to appeal. He will be sentenced on December 4. After the hearing, Merten was taken to the Travis County jail.

    Manslaughter charges are still pending against Robert G. Gill and his company, Robert G. Gill & Associates of Florida, which inspected the Himalaya ride and deemed it safe for operation.

    Three employees of B&B Amusements are also facing manslaughter charges in connection with the accident, but those charges will be dropped if the employees cooperate with the state in its case against Gill and his company.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    Man killed on Walt Disney World's Splash Mountain

    (Sunday, November 5, 2000) - A 37-year-old man was killed on the Splash Mountain ride at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Witnesses say that the man stood up and left his boat in the middle of the ride. He was then struck by another boat.

    The victim was rushed to a local hospital where he died.

    Splash Mountain has been shut down pending an investigation.


    Disneyland accident victim has brain injury

    (Thursday, October 26, 2000) - Doctors treating the four-year-old boy who was injured on Disneyland's Roger Rabbit Car Toon Spin ride in September have determined that the child sustained a serious brain injury and will be permanently disabled. An attorney for the family says that the injury "appears to be caused by oxygen deprivation, due to the long time the child was under the car when it was impossible to get assistance."

    The boy was injured on September 22. He fell out of his car, and then got pinned underneath a trailing car after it struck him.

    The boy remains in a coma.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    Disneyland settles with family of victim of 1998 Columbia fatality

    (Wednesday, October 4, 2000) - Disneyland has settled a lawsuit with the family of the man who was killed on the Columbia tall ship ride in 1998. Terms of the settlement were sealed, but legal experts estimate that the amount of the settlement could be as much as $25 million.

    A spokesman from Disney refused to comment on the settlement.

    The family's attorney stated only that the matter "has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the family and the company."

    The accident happened on December 24, 1998. The victim, a 33-year-old man, was killed and two women were seriously injured as the Columbia, a full-size replica of an old American sailing ship, was docking. The ship had passed its normal docking point, but before the helmsman reversed the ship back into position, an employee had already lashed the ship to the dock. The mooring rope, which was designed to break under so much tension, tore off a foot-long metal cleat from the ship's hull, sending it flying into a crowd. The man and his forty-three year old wife were struck in the head and the other woman, an employee, sustained serious injuries to her legs. All three victims were hospitalized. The man was removed from life support about 11 hours after the accident. His wife suffered serious injury and underwent plastic surgery due to cuts to her face.

    On March 25, 1999, the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Disneyland for what it called "serious" safety violations and fined the park $12,500. OSHA cited the park for having inadequately trained the employees operating the ride and for having overloaded the bowcleat.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    Swing ride collapses in Nebraska; 10 injured

    (Sunday, September 24, 2000) - At a company picnic in Crete, Nebraska, a swing ride partially collapsed, injuring 10 people. Investigators have determined that the accident was a result of structural failure.

    The ride, called "Big Swinger," is a 24-passenger swing ride and is owned and operated by Mid-American Catering of Rocky Comfort, Missouri.

    Officials from the Nebraska Department of Labor say that Mid-American never filed for a license to operate the ride in Nebraska, and that, subsequently, state inspectors did not have an opportunity to inspect the ride before it was opened to the public.


    Rider's jacket jams coaster at California park

    (Saturday, September 23, 2000) - At Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California, 25 riders were trapped on board a roller coaster after one rider's jacket got caught underneath a car, jamming the coaster train onto the track.

    It took local firefighters two hours to unload the riders, none of whom were injured.


    Boy, 4, in critical condition after accident on Disneyland's Roger Rabbit ride

    (Friday, September 22, 2000) - A four-year-old boy was seriously injured in an accident on Disneyland's Roger Rabbit Car Toon Spin ride. The victim, who was riding next to his mother at the time of the accident, fell out of his car, was struck by a trailing car, and got pinned underneath it.

    The child was hospitalized and remains in a coma.

    Neither Disneyland nor police officials are releasing any details, however, it has been determined that the accident is not a result of a mechanical malfunction.

    Officials from the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health say that their investigation will focus on the design of the ride's cars and, in particular, whether the lap bars are low enough for children. They will also determine whether or not the ride operators were properly trained to load and unload passengers.

    Disney is also conducting its own investigation.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    Lake Compounce, employees, parent, all contributed to child's death, say police

    (Tuesday, September 5, 2000) - A police investigation into the cause of July's drowning at Lake Compounce Amusement Park in Bristol, Connecticut has concluded that the park, its employees, and the victim's parent all contributed to the accident, but that no criminal charges should be filed.

    On July 1, a 6-year-old boy drowned in Lake Compounce after riding one of the park's water slides. The slide, which is enclosed, carries riders who sit upon inner tubes through twists and turns and then spills them into the lake. Then, riders must paddle over to a dock, which sits in water about 10-12 feet deep.

    The boy fell off his raft as it entered the lake. Lifeguards found him a half-hour later, curled up in a fetal position at the bottom of the lake, beyond the dock, 15 feet below the surface. He never regained consciousness, and died one week later.

    The park says that the ride is for "strong swimmers only," but, at the time of the accident, children who were at least 46 inches tall could ride without a life jacket. Police say that the victim was never asked whether or not he could swim, nor was his father.

    Mike Kindelan, the manager of the park's water attractions, told Southington, Connecticut Police Detective Craig Fournier that he had previously expressed concern to his supervisors that there was no system in place to stop the pumps in case of an emergency, and that underwater safety netting might prevent riders from being swept out beyond the dock if an accident like this were ever to happen. According to Kindelan, his supervisors told him that underwater netting "could cause a hazard if someone were to get tangled in it," and that the ride was not equipped with an emergency stop system because it "takes too much work to get started up once it is stopped."

    Another lifeguard, Jason Darmofalski, told Fournier that he had expressed similar concerns to supervisors.

    Jeremy Novak, one of the park's lifeguards who assisted in the search for the child, told Fournier that the pumps were actually left on as park lifeguards searched for the child, and that even some lifeguards could not swim through "the strong current coming out of the slides."

    Detective Fournier also reports that he made several attempts to meet with Kindelan and Darmofalski, but that the two refused to meet with police in the absence of park management. They eventually hired an attorney who told police that neither of them wanted to be interviewed or give a statement. Detective Fournier reports that the attorney "stated that the men felt that if they were to do so, they would be subjected to retaliation from their employer."

    Fournier also reports that, in speaking about the water slide, Kindelan told him, "I hope it never opens back up." Kindelan, who is still employed by Lake Compounce, denies having ever said that, and says that Fournier's report is "misleading and inaccurate."

    "No park employee, either before or after the incident, ever brought safety concerns about this water slide to my attention," said park manager Tom Wages in a statement released by the park.

    Wages calls the police report "misleading."

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    Ride collapses at fair in Australia; 37 injured

    (Saturday, September 2, 2000) - At the Royal Adelaide Show in Australia, thirty-seven people were injured after the Spin Dragon ride collapsed. Investigators believe that several bolts sheered off from the ride, causing the passenger platform to break free from its mountings and crash to the ground.

    The ride is manufactured by the Fabbri Group of Italy. The type of ride is more commonly known as Top Spin and Space Loop. Passengers sit in rows across a large platform, which is connected to the ends of two vertical arms. The rotating motion of the arms causes the platform to flip throughout the ride cycle, sending riders upside-down over and over again.

    Witnesses say that they heard a loud grinding noise as the platform completed a flip, then they watched the platform break away from the ride and crash to the ground, trapping some bystanders underneath it.

    Twenty-four people were treated at local hospitals and released. Five people remain hospitalized, three of whom are being treated in intensive care. Ten other people were treated at the scene.

    Witnesses say that the ride was having problems throughout the day. One witness saw workers making adjustments to the ride shortly before the accident.

    The accident is under investigation. The ride has been impounded by the South Australian government.

    The Spin Dragon is owned and operated by Wittingslow Amusements.


    Roller coaster malfunctions, crashes; 14 injured

    (Thursday, August 31, 2000) - At Blackpool Pleasure Beach in Blackpool, England, 14 people were injured after two roller coaster trains collided. The accident happened on The Big One, one of the tallest and fastest roller coasters in the world. Park officials say that a slow-moving train hit another train, which was stopped.

    Two people were hospitalized. Twelve other people also suffered injuries, including fractures, a broken leg, spinal injuries, and whiplash.

    The rear car of the train which was stopped and the front car of the other train were badly damaged. Four passengers in those cars were trapped until firefighters used special cutting equipment to free them.

    The accident is under investigation.

    RELATED STORY:

  • Boy, 11, killed in fall from Blackpool roller coaster (7/22/00)


    Witnesses of 1999 Great America fatality suing park

    (Tuesday, August 29, 2000) - Five people who witnessed a boy fall from a 224-foot high freefall ride at Paramount's Great America theme park in Santa Clara, California last year are suing the park for at least $1 million, saying that they have been traumatized by the accident.

    The lawsuit claims that the park was negligent in its operation of the ride, that the ride was operated by juveniles without any adult supervision, and that the operators did not follow proper safety procedures.

    Four of the plaintiffs were riding along with the 12-year-old victim who fell out of his seat and plunged to his death. Three of them are children are attending counseling. Another plaintiff was watching from the ground.

    The victim's mother is also suing the park.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    Worker loses leg in haunted house accident

    (Wednesday, August 16, 2000) - A 19-year-old man who was working inside of a haunted house ride lost his left leg after it became entangled in the ride's track. Police officials say that the man's job was to scare riders in the darkness, and that he may have tripped onto the track.

    The ride, called the Monster Mash, is located on the boardwalk in Wildwood, New Jersey. It has been shut down pending investigations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.


    Two women fall from Zipper ride at Minnesota carnival

    (Thursday, August 3, 2000) - At a carnival in Albert Lea, Minnesota, two women were ejected from their car while being let off a Zipper amusement ride. When the door of their car opened, the ride jerked forward, and the women were thrown out.

    One woman was hospitalized.


    Disneyland's Space Mountain roller coaster derails, injures 9

    (Monday, August 1, 2000) - At Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California, nine people were injured after the park's Space Mountain roller coaster malfunctioned. Investigators say that a support arm came loose on the wheel assembly of one of the ride's cars, and then became jammed between the car and the track, causing the ride to come to a quick stop. A spokesman for Disneyland confirmed that the car derailed.

    One woman suffered a sprained foot when the floor of her car buckled. Eight other people suffered bruises. They were taken to local hospitals where they were treated and released.

    Disneyland has reported the accident to the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as is now required by California state law. OSHA and Disneyland are investigating the accident.

    Park officials say that Monday's accident marks the first time the 23-year-old ride has had any mechanical problems.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    Amusement park injuries up 95% since 1996; CPSC "very concerned"

    (Tuesday, August 1, 2000) - A new study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) indicates that the number of people injured on rides at amusement parks continues to increase. The CPSC found that, in 1999, an estimated 7,260 people were injured on rides at amusement parks and required emergency room treatment. That number is up 12% from 1998 and 95% from 1996.

    The study also says that roller coasters are responsible for more deaths than any other type of ride; they accounted for 15 of the 49 amusement ride-related deaths over the last 12 years.

    Congressman Edward Markey, who is sponsoring a bill which would mandate the federal regulation of amusement park rides, told USA Today: "One-third of the roller coasters in this country are never inspected by any public official."

    "Information that could prevent accidents is routinely hidden from the public," he added.

    The CPSC study says that there has been no increase in the number of people who were injured on rides at traveling carnivals and fairs.

    In an interview with Reuters, CPSC spokesman Ken Giles said, "We are very concerned that the fixed-ride injuries have doubled since 1996, while the mobile rides have remained about the same. This worries us."

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    Riders stranded for hours on Skylift ride at Iowa amusement park

    (Saturday, July 29, 2000) - At Adventureland Park in Altoona, Iowa, fifty people were left stranded on the Skylift ride after it stalled. Firefighters used ladders and cranes to rescue passengers, some of whom were left trapped more than fifty feet in the air.

    Most of the riders were rescued within two hours, however, nine passengers, who were left stranded in cars which stopped over the park's log flume ride, waited more than four hours until firefighters could position the crane over the flume ride to reach them.

    No injuries were reported.

    A park spokesman says that a breaker switch flipped, causing the ride to shut down.


    Conklin Shows settles 1995 injury case for $775,000

    (Wednesday, July 26, 2000) - The mother of a girl who was injured when a part of an amusement ride struck her at the Canadian National Exhibition in 1995 has announced that the lawsuit she filed against the ride's owner, Conklin Shows, has been settled. In May, just one week before the case was to go to court, Conklin Shows offered the victim $775,000 and she accepted.

    The girl, who was sixteen at the time of the accident, was struck by a square-meter piece of fiberglass which flew off an Enterprise ride. She sustained serious head injuries and was hospitalized for three weeks. Government investigators determined that the fiberglass section was not properly bolted onto the ride. Three other people were injured in the accident.

    In 1997, Conklin Shows pleaded guilty to two violations of Ontario's Amusement Devices Act in connection with the accident, and was fined $15,000.

    In 1999, another Conklin Shows accident led to citations from Canada's Technical Standards and Safety Authority. The accident happened at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto in September. Four lifting ropes inside the company's Wave Swinger ride ripped, causing the ride to collapse. Sixteen people were injured.

    The company was cited for having replaced parts of the ride with parts which were not designed for use on the ride. They were also charged with failing to properly examine an amusement device, and failing to replace worn, defective, or broken components.

    RELATED STORY:

  • Fair ride collapses; 16 injured (9/1/99)
  • Wave Swinger accident not the fault of manufacturer (9/21/99)
  • Conklin Shows charged with safety violations in Wave Swinger accident (11/1/99)


    Man killed in fall from roller coaster

    (Sunday, July 23, 2000) - At a carnival in Chemnitz, Germany, a 30-year-old man was killed after falling from a roller coaster ride. Police investigators say that the man was not wearing a safety belt, and that he may have been kneeling in his seat when he was ejected.


    Swing ride malfunctions at California carnival; 2 injured

    (Saturday, July 22, 2000) - At a carnival in San Jose, California, a 35-year-old man and his 32-year old wife were seriously injured after cables on a swing ride broke and sent the two flying 50 feet through the air onto pavement. The ride, called Whirlwind, features two-passenger swings which circle through the air around a rotating and tilting tower. Witnesses say that the cables which were attatched to the victims' seat snapped while the ride was operating.

    The victims were both hospitalized. The woman was listed in stable condition, and her husband was listed in critical but stable condition.

    Investigators from the San Jose Police Department say they are not yet sure what caused the cables to snap.

    A spokeswoman from Butler Amusements, the owner and operator of the Whirlwind ride, says that the company has an excellent safety record.


    Authorities shut down carnival after accidents injure 11

    (Saturday, July 22, 2000) - A carnival operating at the Cass County Fair in Pine River, Minnesota was shut down after two amusement ride accidents injured at least 11 people.

    On Thursday, three children received electrical shocks as they were boarding a malfunctioning ride. The victims received burns to their hands when they touched a metal step upon boarding the ride. Two of them were treated at the scene and one was taken to a local hospital where she was treated and released.

    On Friday, at least eight people were injured while they were boarding a circular swing ride. The ride collapsed, dropping the victims to the ground. Investigators found that parts of the ride were missing.

    On Friday night, the Cass County Fair Board ordered the carnival operator, Magic Midway, to shut down operations and leave the fairgrounds. The company packed up its rides and left the area on Saturday.

    Authorities from local police and sheriff's departments are investigating.


    Boy, 11, killed in fall from Blackpool roller coaster

    (Saturday, July 22, 2000) - An 11-year-old boy suffered fatal injuries to his head and body after falling from the Space Invader roller coaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach amusement park in Blackpool, England. The ride, which is enclosed, is described by the park as a "high-speed turbulent coaster ride in the dark."

    The boy was riding the coaster with two of his friends, who say that at some point during the course of the ride, the victim fell out of his car. The boy's friends remained in the car until it returned to the station, then told the operators of the ride what had happened.

    The boy was pronounced dead at the scene.

    The Space Invader has been shut down pending an investigation by police and Health and Safety Executive.


    Boy falls from Swinger ride at Illinois carnival

    (Friday, July 21, 2000) - At a church festival in Chicago, Illinois, a 12-year-old boy was injured after falling from a Swinger ride. The cause of the accident is under investigation, however witnesses say that a chain attached to the front of the boy's seat came loose.

    All of the rides operating at the carnival were subsequently inspected and deemed safe for operation by state inspectors.


    Bungee ride malfunctions at Daytona Beach; 2 injured

    (Friday, July 21, 2000) - Two teenage girls suffered minor injuries after a bungee ride malfunctioned, and sent the girls' car crashing into a steel tower. The accident happened at Daytona's Boardwalk at Daytona Beach, Florida.

    Investigators from the state Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Fair Rides say that the accident was the result of either a broken cable, or a failure of an attachment mechanism at the end of the cable.

    The ride, a reverse-bungee catapult ride called Screamers, consists of two 120-foot-high steel towers with a bungee cord connected to the center of each. The cords are stretched toward the ground where they are attached to a steel cage in which two people are seated. The cage is then released, sending the riders on a high-speed vertical launch into mid-air. The bungee cords bounce the riders to a stop, at which time the cage is lowered back down to the loading area.

    The accident happened shortly after the girls were launched. One of the bungee cords failed, sending the cage crashing into one of the ride's steel towers. The girls, who sustained bruises and cuts in the crash, were left dangling 40 feet off the ground, strapped to their seats inside the cage. They were later rescued by firefighters.

    Screamers has been shut down and investigators are examining the parts of the ride.

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    Man who lost wife, daughter in Gillian's accident seeking $275 million

    (Wednesday, July 19, 2000) - The man whose wife and daughter were killed at Gillian's Wonderland Pier in Ocean City, New Jersey after a roller coaster malfunctioned there last year has filed a lawsuit which seeks $275 million in damages. Named in the suit are: Gillian's Wonderland Pier; Zamperla, Inc., the manufacturer of the ride; Air Tech Systems, the company that installed the ride; and Point Machine Shop, which fabricated the faulty replacement part blamed for the accident. The suit was filed in Morris County Superior Court in Morristown, New Jersey.

    The accident happened in August on a roller coaster ride called Wild Wonder. The victims were killed after their car failed to complete its climb to the top of the ride's lift hill, rolled backwards 30 feet, rounded a sharp curve and ejected the two from their seats. The victims struck a steel support structure and were killed.

    Investigators concluded that the accident was the result of mechanical failure. The New Jersey State Department of Community Affairs cited problems with the car's anti-rollback device, which is designed to prevent such an accident from happening, and found problems with the safety bar mechanism on the car in which the victims were riding.

    Both Gillian's and Zamperla were cited and fined by the State of New Jersey. Zamperla was fined $30,000 for safety violations, including for having failed to provide maintenance schedules and other information to park owners. Gillian's Wonderland Pier was fined $25,000 for having operated the ride without the proper lap bar adjustment, and for having made modifications to the ride which were not authorized. Those fines are being appealed by the two companies.

    The suit alleges that the defendants "knew or should have known that the Wild Wonder's anti-rollback device and other component parts were made with inferior materials and were not reasonably fit for their intended purpose."

    RELATED STORY:

  • Two dead after New Jersey roller coaster malfunctions (8/28/99)
  • Mechanical failure blamed for Gillian's roller coaster deaths (2/4/00)
  • Gillian's to appeal fines (2/5/00)
  • Zamperla, Gillian's deny responsibility for fatal Wild Wonder accident (3/10/00)
  • Injured riders complained to Gillian's an hour before fatal accident (3/17/00)


    Two girls injured on ride at Six Flags Great America

    (Wednesday, July 19, 2000) - A 13-year-old girl and an 11-year-old girl were injured on the Cajun Cliffhanger ride at Six Flags Great America theme park in Gurnee, Illinois. Both girls sustained injuries to their feet, which got caught between parts of the ride.

    The Cajun Cliffhanger uses centrifugal force to pin riders against a spinning circular wall. Once riders are clinging to the wall, the floor beneath them drops from under their feet. The floor returns as the ride slows to a stop.

    Witnesses say that the floor was raised at the wrong time, and that the girls were injured when their feet got caught between the wall and the rising floor.

    The 13-year-old victim was treated and released from a local hospital. The 11-year-old suffered broken bones and remains hospitalized for further evaluation.

    The park released a statement saying that the girls "had their toes pinched" on the ride.

    The accident is under investigation. The ride has been shut down.


    Amusement Park Ride Safety Act gains support in U.S. House

    (Saturday, July 15, 2000) - A bill which would mandate the federal regulation of amusement park rides continues to gain support in the U.S. House of Representatives. In May, eight representatives signed onto the bill, and in June, an additional 21 became co-sponsors. The proposed legislation, House Resolution 3032, or, the National Amusement Park Ride Safety Act, is now supported by 49 representatives: 44 Democrats and 5 Republicans. Supporters include: Rep. David Bonoir (D-Michigan), Rep. Charles Rangel (D-New York), Rep. Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts), and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-New York).

    Political analysts say that even though support for the bill appears to be increasing, the chance of the resolution coming to a floor vote this session is extremely unlikely. They say that no major action is to be expected on this bill until early 2001, when the bill would have to be re-introduced to a new Congress, and again referred to committee.

    Currently, the bill sits before the Telecommunications, Trade, and Consumer Protection Subcommittee of the House Committee on Commerce.

    The amusement industry opposes passage of the National Amusement Park Ride Safety Act.

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    Boy, 3, drowns at Texas water park

    (Saturday, July 8, 2000) - A 3-year-old boy was found unconscious in a pool at Splashtown water park in San Antonio, Texas. The child was taken to an area hospital where he died a short time later.


    Seven hospitalized after chlorine spill at Six Flags Fiesta Texas

    (Saturday, July 8, 2000) - At Six Flags Fiesta Texas theme park in San Antonio, Texas, seven people were injured after they were overcome with fumes from a gas cloud which resulted from a chlorine spill. All seven victims were taken to local hospitals. Their injuries are not considered to be life-threatening.


    Boy injured in Lake Compounce water slide accident dies

    (Friday, July 7, 2000) - The 6-year-old boy who fell off his inner tube while riding the Lake Plunge water slide at Lake Compounce amusement park in Bristol, Connecticut, has died. The accident happened on Saturday. The boy never surfaced after he and his inner tube slid from the slide into the water. The child's father alerted park personnel, and a lifeguard later pulled the child from the water. It is not known how long the child was underwater.

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    Mobile bungee rides banned in Ontario

    (Wednesday, July 5, 2000) - The government of Ontario, Canada has announced that it will ban the operation of mobile bungee rides. The action comes in response to a coroner's inquest into the death of a 29-year-old man who was killed on a mobile bungee ride at a fair in 1998. The inquest, which concluded last month, led jurors to hand down 29 recommendations which call for increased regulation of amusement rides.

    Since 1986, 17 people have been killed in bungee ride accidents worldwide.

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    Girl, 3, killed in Illinois go-cart crash

    (Saturday, July 1, 2000) - A 3-year-old girl died after a go-cart accident at Hi-Speed Race Karts race track in Palatine, Illinois. The accident happened on Friday night. The car in which the victim and her 21-year-old mother were riding collided with another car which had spun out directly in front of them. The girl was riding in between her mother's legs at the time of the accident. When the two cars collided, she was crushed between the steering wheel and her mother's body.

    The steering wheel was padded, in accordance with state safety regulations, and authorities found no defects in the brakes, steering or tires. However, none of the go-carts had seat belts, and a sign posted at the front entrance to the ride states: "Every rider must be 5 feet tall, all riders must sign release."

    The Palatine Police Department has confiscated the go-carts which crashed. The accident is under investigation.


    Boy, 6, in critical condition after accident at Lake Compounce

    (Satrurday, July 1, 2000) - A 6-year-old boy was hospitalized in critical condition after an accident on the Lake Plunge water slide at Lake Compounce amusement park in Bristol, Connecticut.

    Lake Plunge is an enclosed water slide. Riders sit upon inner tubes as they travel down the slide and are spilled into the park's lake at the end of the ride.

    A park spokesman told reporters that the inner tube on which the child was riding may have flipped over during the course of the ride. The boy never surfaced after he and his inner tube slid from the slide into the water. The child's father alerted park personnel, and a lifeguard later pulled the child from the water. It is not known how long the child was underwater.

    The victim was flown by helicopter to an area hospital where he was listed in critical condition.

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    Woman falls from roller coaster at Michigan's Adventure

    (Friday, June 30, 2000) - At Michigan's Adventure amusement park in Muskegon, Michigan, a 38-year-old woman fell from the Zach's Zoomer roller coaster after she apparently turned around in her seat to take pictures of relatives who were in cars behind her.

    The woman fell only a few feet, but struck one of the ride's wooden support beams and sustained critical injuries.

    Signs posted around on the ride prohibit riders from taking pictures.


    Ferris wheel collapses, kills worker

    (Monday, June 26, 2000) - In Pine Plains, New York, a 23-year-old carnival worker was crushed to death after the ferris wheel which he was assembling collapsed. Another worker suffered minor injuries.

    The ride is owned by Country Amusements of Newton, Connecticut.


    Another rapids ride raft capsizes

    (Thursday, June 15, 2000) - A river rapids ride raft capsized on the Renegade Rapids ride at Six Flags America in Largo, Maryland, spilling 8 people into the water and temporarily trapping them underneath the raft. Two riders were injured.

    One eyewitness, who was waiting in line for the ride at the time of the accident, told reporters that he thought the park did not respond fast enough to the accident. The man, who jumped into the water to help rescue a young girl, said that he saw people who had been injured attempting to rescue others who had been thrown into the water, while the ride operator "didn't even get into the water."

    The accident marks the third river rapids ride accident at a Six Flags park in just over a year. Last March, a woman was killed and 10 people were injured at Six Flags Over Texas after a raft capsized on that park's Roaring Rapids ride, and in August, 6 people were injured after a raft capsized on the Blizzard River ride at Riverside Park in Agawam, Massachusetts.

    Another rapids ride raft capsized at Visionland Park in Birmingham, Alabama last July, injuring 5 people.

    Renegade Rapids has been shut down. Six Flags America inspectors and Maryland state officials are investigating the accident.

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    Inflatable Titanic slide collapses at fair; 5 injured

    (Friday, June 2, 2000) - At a carnival at Sherwood Park in Alberta, Canada, five teenagers were injured after an inflatable ride collapsed. The ride, a portable, inflatable slide, is a replica of the Titanic. It allows riders to slide down what is made to look like the deck of the ship as it sank into the ocean.

    All five teens were taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

    Eyewitnesses say the accident is a result of the teens' rowdy behavior. The Alberta Elevating Devices and Amusement Rides Safety Association is investigating.

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    Swing kills boy at amusement park

    (Thursday, June 1, 2000) - A 12-year-old boy was hit in the chest with a non-mechanical swing at Grays Amusement Park in Ingoldmells, near Skegness in Lincs, England. He was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead two hours later.


    Boy flung from roller coaster, hospitalized

    (Thursday, June 1, 2000) - At Thorpe Park in Surrey, England, an 11-year-old boy was ejected from the X: No Way Out indoor roller coaster. The child sustained head injuries and was hospitalized.

    The ride propels riders backwards through total darkness. It is not yet known how the child was ejected.

    The ride has been shut down, and officials are investigating.


    Teen dies after accident on inflatable ride

    (Wednesday, May 31, 2000) - A 19-year-old man died from head injuries he sustained in a fall from a Rocky Mountain inflatable amusement attraction. The accident happened Saturday at the Famous Players Coliseum movie theater in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The Rocky Mountain, manufactured by Airbounce Amusements, was being used by the theater to promote a new movie. The victim was a theater employee.

    The attraction inflates to a height of 25 feet. Climbers are harnessed and use a rope climbing system as they attempt to ascend to the top of the attraction.

    The victim was attached to a safety harness and a rope, neither of which stopped his fall.

    A spokesman for Airbounce Amusements says that the ride was in perfect operating condition and denies any responsibility for the accident.

    The Ottawa-Carleton police department has seized the ride. Police officials, the Ministry of Labor, and the Technical Standards and Safety Authority are investigating.

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    Accident at Six Flags Ohio injures ride operator

    (Tuesday, May 30, 2000) - At Six Flags Ohio theme park in Aurora, Ohio, a 17-year-old ride operator was injured after falling from the loading platform of the Batman Knight Flight roller coaster.

    The accident happened in the ride's station where the trains are dispatched. The floor below the roller coaster trains separates and drops off to the sides as the trains leave the station. Witnesses say the victim, who was standing on that floor, fell 12-15 feet from the loading deck into a room below the ride.

    The female ride operator suffered bumps and bruises and was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center, where she was treated and released immediately.

    The roller coaster has been closed. Park officials are investigating.


    Girl, 12, killed in fall from Top Spin ride at fair

    (Saturday, May 27, 2000) - At Redruth in Cornwall, England, a 12-year-old girl was killed after falling out of a Top Spin ride at a fair. Witnesses say the victim fell 30 feet from the ride and struck another girl who was on the ground. The girl who was struck received minor injuries.

    The victim was 5 feet and 8 inches tall, well over the 52-inch minimum height requirement for the Top Spin ride. She was at the fair both Friday and Saturday in celebration of her twelfth birthday.

    Health officials and civil engineers are investigating the accident. The fair has been shut down.


    One dead, two injured after car flies off Super Trooper ride at fair

    (Saturday, May 27, 2000) - At a fair at Shepherd's Bush in west London, England, a 28-year-old woman was killed and two men were seriously injured when their car detatched from a Super Trooper ride, flew through the air, and crashed into a toy stall. One of the men received head injuries and was hospitalized in critical condition; the other was hospitalized in stable condition.

    The operator of the ride said that metal fatigue is the likely cause of the accident. He also said that the ride passed several recent inspections.

    Health officials and civil engineers are investigating the accident. The fair has been shut down.


    Judge: B&B, Gill will stand trial; attorneys want evidence kept from jury

    (Tuesday, May 23, 2000) - At a pre-trial hearing in Texas, district judge Wilford Flowers denied a motion to drop manslaughter indictments currently pending against B&B Amusements, Bob G. Gill & Associates, and several of the companies' employees. Flowers also set a trial date for the case: February 12, 2001.

    Attorneys for B&B Amusements and Bob G. Gill & Associates argued that evidence in the case should be suppressed and kept from members of the jury at trial. They say evidence was obtained illegally by members of the Austin Police Department who acted without a search warrant.

    The decision on whether the evidence should be suppressed will be made at another hearing scheduled for September.

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    Markey pushes for "common sense federal oversight" of park rides

    (Tuesday, May 16, 2000) - At a hearing on consumer safety legislation before the U.S. House Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade, and Consumer Protection, Congressman Edward Markey said that his bill, HR 3032, provides for "common sense federal oversight" of amusement park rides that could save lives. The congressman discussed the bill and several other consumer protection bills currently pending in the House of Representatives with members from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

    CPSC chairwoman Ann Brown told the committee that she supports Markey's bill, which would give her commission jurisdiction over fixed-site amusement park rides. 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.

    Some committee members questioned the need for the legislation, saying that current state regulations are sufficient. Democrats serving on the committee seemed to be in support of the measure, while Republicans seemed to oppose the new legislation, adding that it would lead to just "another level of government bureaucracy and regulation."

    Markey cited a CPSC study which showed the number of fixed-site roller coaster injuries requiring emergency room treatment nearly doubled from 2,400 to 4,500 between 1994 and 1998, and called it a "blistering, scalding indictment of the roller coaster industry."

    John Graff, president of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), also testified before the congressional subcommittee. He argued that the industry is already "effectively and adequately regulated." He questioned whether new legislation would reduce the number of accidents or accident-related injuries.

    Graff also questioned the validity of the CPSC statistics. He said that his organization was told by the CPSC that the numbers did not reflect an increase in injuries, but a change in the commission's method of data-collection.

    The chairman of the House subcommittee, Representative Billy Tauzin (R) of Louisiana, asked Graff why he could not support the idea of a mandatory minimum requirement for all parks to report accidents or ride defects to a central reporting data bank for the purpose of sharing information with amusement safety officials throughout the country. Graff avoided giving Tauzin a direct answer, but Tauzin persisted. Graff eventually said that if the interests of the amusement industry were protected, the proposal would be "something that we will look at."

    Amusement ride safety advocate and lobbyist Kathy Fackler also questioned why the industry would oppose a national clearinghouse of safety information which could greatly benefit both consumers and those in the industry responsible for ride safety. She said she thought it ironic that the industry would keep such information from consumers, given the fact that most accidents are caused by rider misbehavior. Fackler told the panel that she believes increased public awareness would reduce the number of accidents and injuries resulting from amusement rides.

    "The industry is not in the business of public education," said Fackler.

    HR 3032 awaits approval from the commerce subcommittee before moving on to the House of Representatives.

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    Man falls 300 feet to his death in bungee ride accident

    (Monday, May 15, 2000) - A 22-year-old American man was killed in a bungee jumping accident in the Swiss Alps. The man jumped from a cable car which runs between two mountains. There was a bungee cord attached to the victim, but it never stopped or slowed his fall: he fell 300 feet and landed head-first into a parking lot.

    Several witnesses were treated for shock. No other injuries were reported.

    The cause of the accident is not yet determined, however, shortly before the man's jump, two other groups of people had been jumping from the cable car at a height of 540 feet. Swiss officials say that are trying to determine whether organizers failed to change the length of the cord for the jumps to be made at the lower height of 300 feet. The victim was the first in a group of 7 other people, including 6 Americans, who planned on jumping from the cable car at the 300-foot height. Investigators say that the bungee cord itself was not defective.

    Since 1986, 17 people have been killed in bungee jumping accidents worldwide.

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    $1.7 million settlement for victim's family in Waterworld USA fatality

    (Saturday, May 13, 2000) - Attorneys for the family of 17-year-old Quimby Ghilotti, who was killed in the 1997 Banzai Pipeline water slide collapse at WaterWorld USA theme park in Concord, California, have reached a $1.7 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. Seniors from a local high school 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, killing Ghilotti and injuring 32 other students, some of whom fell from heights of 30 feet. The students later admitted that they were trying to break the school record for the largest number of students to ride the slide at one time.

    Attorneys for the defendants argued that the students' behavior caused the water slide to break. Attorneys for the students argued that the park failed to prevent the accident, and that park warnings and ride safety systems were inadequate.

    None of the defendants admitted any negligence or liability, and the amount of the settlement is considered to be relatively low.

    In November, 14 other personal injury claims were settled for $4 million. Nine more cases have settlements pending.

    RELATED STORY:

  • WaterWorld USA settles with riders who caused 1997 water slide collapse (11/11/99)


    New Jersey considering additional amusement ride regulations

    (Wednesday, May 10, 2000) - The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs is working with state legislators on proposed amusement ride regulations which would require that ride manufacturers seek state approval for designs for rides which would operate in the state, and increase the maximum fine for operators who are found to be in violation of state regulations from $5,000 to $50,000.

    The action comes at least partly in response to last year's fatal accident at Gillian's Wonderland Pier in Ocean City, New Jersey, which killed a woman and her 8-year-old child. The two were killed while riding the park's Wild Wonder roller coaster. Investigators concluded that the accident was caused by faulty brake parts.

    William Connolly, the director of the New Jersey Division of Codes and Standards, suggested that the state might have been able to prevent the Ocean City accident, had the design for the Wild Wonder been submitted for approval. Connolly also says that, while independent reviews of ride designs pose no harm to manufacturers or operators, they could greatly benefit consumers.

    "Right now, the fox is watching the henhouse... and while most manufacturers are as honest as the day is long, people make mistakes, and as you raise the risk level of the ride, it warrants an independent review," Connolly told New Jersey's Asbury Park Press.

    New Jersey has been successful in reducing the number of serious accidents on amusement rides since 1998, when it stiffened fines for operators who violate safety regulations or fail to report accidents to the state. Since the new law took effect, there has been a 50% decline in the number of serious amusement ride accidents in the state of New Jersey.

    The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that the number of injuries resulting from amusement ride accidents n nationwide has increased 87% since 1994. Currently, amusement parks are exempt from federal regulation.

    John Graff, the executive director of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, told New Jersey's Asbury Park Press that he questions the need for new regulations, and that he sees the proposal as just another level of bureaucracy.

    Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, supports the proposal.

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    OSHA to investigate Skydiver collapse

    (Sunday, May 7, 2000) - The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating an accident that injured 3 carnival workers as they were assembling a ride for the Carbondale Little League Carnival in Carbondale, Pennsylvania.

    The Skydiver ride which belongs to Benner Amusement Company collapsed when one of the workers apparently became distracted as he and several other employees were erecting the ride, and failed to support part of the wheel-like structure of the ride. All of the victims got pinned between parts of the ride as it came crashing down and folded back up onto its trailer bed. One of the workers got his legs trapped between two of the ride's balance support bars and was trapped in position for about five minutes until other carnival workers freed him.

    All three victims were hospitalized, one in critical condition.

    The Carbondale Police Department reported the incident to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for investigation.


    Anderson Ventures fined a record $145,000 for Rocket Launcher death

    (Tuesday, April 25, 2000) - In Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, a judge fined Delaware-based amusement ride operator Anderson Ventures $145,000 in connection with the 1998 Central Canada Exhibition accident which left 21-year-old Jerome Charron dead. In February, the court found Anderson Ventures guilty on three of four charges which were filed against it by Ontario's Technical Standards and Safety Authority.

    In a statement to the media, Charron's father told reporters that, although the fines render "very little justice," he hoped that the decision would send a message to the amusement industry.

    "What I really wanted out of this process was a clear message to be given to the amusement industry that they've got to operate rides safely as approved by the engineers," said Charron.

    In her decision, Justice of the Peace Louisette Girault said that while there was no "wanton disregard for the value of life" on the part of the defendant, that she "must balance that with general deterrence and a message sent to the community and to the amusement ride industry... [that] its actions or lack thereof have serious consequences. The public entrusts its safety into the hands of operators.

    "Jerome's life is obviously worth more than anything I can impose," she added.

    Charron was killed while riding Anderson's Rocket Launcher, a reverse-bungee amusement ride which catapults harnessed riders into mid-air, then allows for riders to bounce and freefall before coming to a stop. Charron's harness disengaged, leaving him to fall about 100 feet from mid-air to pavement. The Rocket Launcher passed an inspection by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority four days before the accident. Later, however, the owner of the ride had illegally substituted a blue nylon extension strap for the one which had been approved for use on the ride. The strap connected the victim's harness to the bungee cords.

    "Jerome saw himself become unhitched and painfully realized that he was in a free fall. He cried out 'Oh my God.' He knew too well what was happening to him. Jerome surely suffered deep and agonizing emotional trauma before crashing to the ground," said Charron's father.

    The $145,000 fine was the largest ever imposed under the province's Amusement Devices Act.

    A coroner's inquest into the circumstances surrounding Charron's death begins May 15. Civil lawsuits are expected at the conclusion of the inquest, which is expected to last 2-3 weeks.

    Anderson Ventures has gone out of business.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    Girl injured on Disneyland's Roger Rabbit ride

    (Tuesday, April 18, 2000) - A thirteen-year-old girl was injured on the Roger Rabbit Cartoon Spin ride at Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California after she slipped underneath her lap bar and stepped out of her car in an attempt to retrieve a stuffed animal which had fallen out of it. As the girl reached to grab the toy, her lower left leg got caught underneath her car. Paramedics were able to dislodge the girl's leg within minutes.

    She was taken to an area hospital for examination and was released within an hour.

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    Consumer groups express support for federal legislation

    (Thursday, April 13, 2000) - The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), and the Consumers Union have announced that they are supporting proposed federal legislation which would close a loophole in the 1981 Consumer Product Safety Act which exempts amusement parks from federal oversight. Currently, the CPSC is prohibited from investigating amusement ride accidents or developing or enforcing safety plans. Also, manufacturers, owners and operators of rides are not required to disclose to the CPSC defects which would create a substantial hazard of consumer injury. Effectively, the law, which allows for federal oversight of mobile carnival rides, also prevents the CPSC from sharing information with others so that accidents in one state might be prevented in others.

    The new federal legislation has been proposed by Representative Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts. The bill, HR 3032, currently has 18 co-sponsors. It was introduced to Congress in October.

    "The legislation closes a gaping loophole in CPSC law, which currently prohibits the safety agency from regulating rides in fixed-site amusement parks while allowing authority over mobile rides. The distinction does not make sense and consumers pay the price in terms of lives lost and injuries incurred," says Mary Rise of the CFA.

    "Manufacturers, distributors, and others have no obligation to report to CPSC when they learn of an amusement ride that could injure or even kill its patrons."

    Speaking for the Consumers Union, Sally Greenburg also gave her support for the legislation.

    "We believe that evidence shows that amusement parks are not as safe as they could be or should be. The CPSC estimates that hospital emergency rooms treated 9,200 people for ride-related injuries in 1998. That's an increase of 24 percent in just four years. Yet it's difficult to get a complete picture of how safe amusement parks really are because the rules are so lax in certain states. While some states are very thorough, other don't even bother to inspect the rides or require the operators to report any injuries."

    "The safety commission would act as a clearinghouse for information about rides that have problems," says Greenburg.

    Amusement industry leaders believe that rides are safe enough, and they oppose this federal attempt to improve safety at parks.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    Yo-Yo ride injures 6 at Pennsylvania carnival

    (Saturday, April 1, 2000) - At a carnival in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, six people were injured after parts of a Yo-Yo ride broke, leaving a metal chain to lash through the air, striking the victims in their heads and backs.

    The Yo-Yo is a flying swing ride which consists of 32 individual seats that are suspended by chains from overhead booms which lift, tilt, and rotate during operation, allowing riders to circle through the air.

    Eyewitnesses heard a loud noise, then noticed that a chain had broken off one of the ride's seats. Victims say that they screamed and shouted, trying to get the ride operator to stop the ride, however the ride continued for another 10 revolutions, during which time the riders were repeatedly struck by the flying chain. The chain also hit at least one person who was standing nearby the ride. When the ride had finally come to a stop, the chain had wrapped around the neck of one passenger, who was choking and foaming at the mouth.

    The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture were investigating the accident on Sunday. The ride has been shut down. The carnival runs until April 9.

    Carnival security workers would not identify the owner of the ride.


    New Space Surfer ride malfunctions during testing at Kings Dominion

    (Thursday, March 30, 2000) - Firefighters were called out to Paramount's Kings Dominion theme park in Doswell, Virginia to rescue four workers who were left stranded after a new amusement ride malfunctioned during testing. The Space Surfer was expected to make its debut to the public on the park's opening day, Saturday, however park officials now say that they unsure as to when the ride might open. They are currently talking to the ride's manufacturer to learn why the ride stalled.

    It took firefighters about 45 minutes to rescue the four workers from heights up to 75 feet. No one was injured.

    RELATED STORY:

  • Man dies after accident at Paramount's Kings Dominion (8/23/99)
  • Boy jumps from Shockwave coaster, claims he wasn't properly secured (9/2/99)


    Inflatable slide tips over at Texas carnival; 4 injured

    (Saturday, March 25, 2000) - At a carnival in Rockwall, Texas, four people were injured after an inflatable ride tipped over.

    On Sunday, carnival workers refused to tell reporters who was responsible for the ride, a portable and inflatable slide, however, the name Kaiser Rides appeared on at least one of the trailers in the lot. Workers also told reporters that they did not want any pictures to be taken at the scene. The ride had already been dismantled and was not visible on site.

    The carnival packed up and left Rockwall on Sunday night.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    Injured riders complained to Gillian's an hour before fatal accident

    (Friday, March 17, 2000) - According to a report issued by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, two people who were injured while riding the Wild Wonder roller coaster at Gillian's Wonderland Pier in Ocean City, New Jersey, say that they reported their injuries to park officials just one hour before the ride killed a mother and her daughter.

    The two who were injured, a Pennsylvania woman and her 9-year-old daughter, say that they alerted the park's guest relations office of possible problems with the ride. They say they received bruises and cuts after the car in which they were riding jerked backward and forward several times as it made its way to the top of the ride's lift hill. They also say that a park employee assured them that the ride would be shut down.

    One hour later, a car failed to complete its climb to the top of the ride, rolled backwards down the lift hill, rounded a sharp curve at high speeds, and ejected a mother and daughter from their seats, killing them both.

    Under normal circumstances, an anti-rollback device would prevent a car from rolling backwards. However, state investigators found that the anti-rollback device on the victims' car was heavily worn, and that all of the ride's anti-rollback devices were made of a weaker steel than that which should have been used. Two weeks before the accident, the park's owners had replaced the original devices with ones which had been made by a local metal shop.

    Investigators also found that the safety bar latch mechanism was improperly adjusted, and that it had at least one weak part.

    Zamperla, the Italian company which manufactured the Wild Wonder ride, was fined $30,000 for safety violations, including for having failed to provide maintenance schedules and other information to park owners. Gillian's Wonderland Pier was fined $25,000 for having operated the ride without the proper lap bar adjustment and for having made modifications to the ride which were not authorized. The citations are currently under appeal.

    Both Gillian's Wonderland Pier and Zamperla deny any responsibility for the accident.


    Zamperla, Gillian's deny responsibility for fatal Wild Wonder accident

    (Friday, March 10, 2000) - Gillian's Wonderland Pier denies responsibility for last summer's Wild Wonder roller coaster accident which killed a mother and her 8-year-old daughter. The manufacturer of the ride, Zamperla, also denies responsibility. Both parties are appealing fines brought against them by the state of New Jersey in connection with the accident.

    The victims were killed while riding the Wild Wonder after their car failed to complete its climb to the top of the ride, rolled backwards, rounded a sharp curve at high speeds, and ejected the two from their seats.

    A state investigation revealed problems with the car's anti-rollback device, which is designed to prevent such an accident from happening. Investigators also found problems with the safety bar mechanism on the car in which the victims were riding.

    Anti-rollback devices, which can be found on most roller coaster rides, are designed to lock cars onto the track if they should ever begin to roll backwards. The device on the victims' car was found to be heavily worn. In addition, the anti-rollback devices used on the ride were found to be made of a weaker steel than that which should have been used. Investigators learned that, two weeks before the accident, the park's owners had replaced the original device with one which had been made by a local metal shop.

    Investigators also found that the safety bar latch mechanism was improperly adjusted, and that it had at least one weak part.

    Zamperla was fined $30,000 for safety violations, including for having failed to provide maintenance schedules and other information to park owners. Gillian's Wonderland Pier was fined $25,000 for having operated the ride without the proper lap bar adjustment and for having made modifications to the ride which were not authorized.

    The companies asked for hearings at which they will argue against the state-imposed citations. Those hearings have not yet been scheduled.

    The state of New Jersey says it will defend the citations and penalties, calling them "fair" and "warranted."


    Congressman aims to limit g-forces on roller coasters

    (Friday, March 10, 2000) - Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts has contacted the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) seeking a health baseline for judging the safety implications of rapidly rising "g-forces" on roller coasters. 'G's are multiples of gravitational force used to measure the stress placed on the human body as coasters bottom out of hills, bank around curves, or flip the body upside-down through twists and inversions.

    In his letter to Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, the acting director of NIH, Markey wrote: "Not only are these giant coasters exempt from federal safety legislation, they also operate without any consensus, within the industry or the public health community, about the point at which brain trauma can be triggered in healthy children or adults simply from the snap of the neck or the pressure on blood circulation generated by high g-forces. The industry may think it is thrilling to operate without 'g-force' standards, but the pediatric, medical, and public health communities need to be the ultimate judges of what is medically safe for our children."

    Markey's letter referred to a recent article in the journal Neurology which described chronic subdural hematoma in a previously healthy woman after riding a giant roller coaster. He also referred to a news report on research in France finding that high-speed amusement rides had led to "minor internal bleeding and small strokes."

    Markey also noted that, unlike the industry in the United States, the German amusement park industry has already adopted g-force standards. Markey is specifically targeting 18 roller coasters in the United States which exceed 4 'g's. The list includes: Taz's Texas Tornado at Six Flags Astroworld in Houston, Texas (6.5 'g's); Runaway Mountain at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, Texas (5.2 'g's); Rock 'N' Roller Coaster at Disney's MGM Studios in Florida (5.0 'g's); Two Face: The Flip Side at Six Flags America in Largo, Maryland (5.0 'g's); Face/Off at Paramount's Kings Island in Cincinnati, Ohio (5.0 'g's); Batman and Robin: The Chiller at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey (5.0 'g's); Invertigo at Paramount's Great America in Santa Clara, California (5.0 'g's); Revolution at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California (4.9 'g's); Great White at Sea World of Texas in San Antonio, Texas (4.6 'g's); Poltergeist at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio, Texas (4.5 'g's); Superman: The Escape at Six Flags Magic Mountain (4.5 'g's); Outer Limits: Flight of Fear at Paramount's Kings Dominion in Doswell, Virginia (4.5 'g's); Outer Limits: Flight of Fear at Paramount's Kings Island (4.5 'g's); Riddler's Revenge at Six Flags Magic Mountain (4.2 'g's); and Apollo's Chariot at Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Virginia (4.1 'g's).

    The list also includes three new roller coasters that are scheduled to open to the public this year. They are: Son of Beast at Paramount's Kings Island (4.5 'g's); Project Stealth at Paramount's Great America (4.3 'g's); and an unnamed coaster to open at the Nascar Cafe in Nevada (4.5 'g's).

    Representative Markey, a Democrat, is sponsoring HR 3032, also known as the National Amusement Park Ride Safety Act. The bill would restore the jurisdiction of the National Consumer Product Safety Commission over fixed-site amusement park rides. Amusement park operators are currently exempt from federal safety legislation.

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    Anderson Ventures found guilty in Rocket Launcher death

    (Tuesday, February 22, 2000) - A judge has found Anderson Ventures guilty on three of four charges which were filed against the company by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority of Ontario, Canada in response to a 1998 accident at the Central Canada Exhibition fairgrounds in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The Delaware-based company was convicted of three violations of Ontario's Amusement Devices Act in connection with the accident, which left 21-year-old Jerome Charron dead.

    Charron was killed while riding Anderson's Rocket Launcher, a reverse-bungee amusement ride which catapults harnessed riders into midair, then allows for riders to bounce and freefall before coming to a stop. Charron's harness disengaged, leaving him to fall about 100 feet from midair to pavement.

    The Rocket Launcher passed an inspection by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority four days before the accident. Later, however, the owner of the ride had illegally substituted a blue nylon extension strap for the one which had been approved for use on the ride. The strap connected the victim's harness to the bungee cords.

    The judge, Justice of the Peace Louisette Girault, found that the unapproved strap, which was half as thick as the original one, caused the locking mechanisms of the connecting devices to disengage. She also found that, while Anderson Ventures did not intentionally cause the accident, "its actions far exceeded its skills and knowledge."

    At trial, Anderson's attorney, Tom Conway, admitted 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 inspection, and that Anderson never showed it to inspectors.

    Doug Anderson, the owner of the company, admitted during the trial that the illegal and unsafe blue strap was used hundreds of times prior to the incident.

    Anderson Ventures faces sentencing on April 25. It could be fined up to $300,000.

    A lawyer representing the ride company called the verdicts "disappointing."

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    Girl, 11, burned on bumper car ride

    (Sunday, February 20, 2000) - At Flea World in Sanford, Florida, an eleven-year-old girl suffered second-degree burns after a washer fell from the top of a bumper car ride and onto the girl's body. The washer was being used to secure one of the ride's electrically-charged overhead metal panels.

    One witness reported seeing the washer emitting sparks as it fell from the ceiling and onto the girl. It was also reported that the girl's skin had peeled away at points which came into contact with the washer.

    The ride was shut down following the accident and will remain closed until repairs are made. The ride passed an inspection in August and was due to be inspected again on February 25.


    Two injured at Florida State Fair; Avalanche ride shut down

    (Friday, February 18, 2000) - State and private inspectors were called out to the Florida State Fair midway after a man and his daughter claimed they suffered injuries during a Thursday night ride on the Avalanche. The man, 44, says that he and his daughter were both bruised during their ride, and that his daughter, 18, broke a bone in her right foot.

    The ride was shut down immediately following the incident and was not in operation on Friday.

    Fair officials say that the ride will remain closed until inspectors deem it safe for operation.


    Alabama to weigh proposals for new amusement ride regulations

    (Monday, February 7, 2000) - Some Alabama lawmakers are proposing that the state begin to regulate the operation of carnival and amusement park rides. State Representative Jack Page, a Democrat, has already submitted one proposal to the state legislature, and State Representative Bill Dukes, also a Democrat, is drafting an alternative measure.

    Both bills propose the formation of a new state board to oversee amusement ride safety at the state's parks and carnivals. They also mandate that park and carnival owners obtain annual permits for each ride they operate.

    Page's legislation would give the authority to inspect and certify rides to the State Fire Marshal's office, while Dukes' proposal would give that authority to the Department of Agriculture. Both bills call for penalties and fines for anyone in non-compliance with the new standards.

    The proposals for a state amusement ride inspection program are being welcomed by the governor's office, the Department of Agriculture, the State Fire Marshal, and amusement park and carnival operators.

    Alabama is one of eight states that have no legislation governing the operation of amusement rides.

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    Missouri considers tightening amusement ride regulations

    (Saturday, February 5, 2000) - State and local lawmakers in Missouri are calling for a tougher amusement ride inspection and regulation program. New proposals would mandate that any amusement ride be shut down immediately following an accident, and that park and carnival operators report accidents to local authorities. They would also require the state to inspect any ride if an accident led to the medical treatment of a passenger. The new proposals would also include a "rider responsibility" clause, which would hold passengers responsible if their own negligence led to an accident.

    The Kansas City Star reports that the Outdoor Amusement Business Association (OABA) is against the new proposals, but that at least one local park would be willing to cooperate with lawmakers in drafting the new legislation.

    "Worlds of Fun will support any reasonable legislation and, if asked, will fully cooperate in the legislation process," says Rick Rau, marketing director of the Kansas City park.

    Bob Johnson, the director of the OABA, told the Kansas City Star that "statistics don't back up or warrant the legislation. That's our concern."

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    Gillian's to appeal fines

    (Saturday, February 5, 2000) - The owners of Gillian's Wonderland Pier in Ocean City, New Jersey refuse to accept the findings of a state investigation of last year's Wild Wonder roller coaster accident, which killed a mother and her 8-year old daughter. Investigators concluded that the accident happened because the original braking devices on each of the ride's cars had been replaced by equipment which was neither designed nor approved for use on the ride. In addition, problems were found with the restraint bar mechanism on the victims' car.

    The New Jersey Department of Community affairs cited Gillian's for five safety violations and ordered the park to pay $25,000 in fines. The park says it plans to appeal the citations.


    Paramount's Kings Island cited for 18 safety violations, fined $110,000

    (Friday, February 4, 2000) - The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Kings Island theme park for 18 safety violations in connection with the park's construction of a new roller coaster. The OSHA investigation began last summer following reports of hazardous working conditions at the site. Last month, concerns grew after a portion of the roller coaster collapsed under high winds.

    OSHA fined Kings Island $110,000, which the Ohio park has agreed to pay.

    OSHA says that the park worked immediately to correct the violations. No workers have been injured on the job.


    Mechanical failure blamed for Gillian's roller coaster deaths

    (Friday, February 4, 2000) - Investigators have concluded that August's Wild Wonder roller coaster accident at Gillian's Wonderland Pier amusement park in Ocean City, New Jersey was the result of mechanical failure. A mother and her 8-year-old daughter were killed on the roller coaster after their car failed to complete its climb to the top of the ride and rolled backwards, rounding a sharp curve and ejecting the two from their seats.

    The New Jersey State Department of Community Affairs cited problems with the car's anti-rollback device, which is designed to prevent such an accident from happening. They also found problems with the safety bar mechanism on the car in which the victims were riding.

    Anti-rollback devices, which can be found on most roller coaster rides, are designed to lock cars onto the track if they should ever begin to roll backwards. The device on the victims' car was found to be heavily worn. In addition, the anti-rollback devices used on the ride were found to be made of a weaker steel than that which should have been used. Investigators learned that, two weeks before the accident, the park's owners had replaced the original device with one which had been made by a local metal shop.

    Investigators also found that the safety bar latch mechanism was improperly adjusted, and that it had at least one weak part.

    Zamperla, the Italian company which manufactured the Wild Wonder ride, was fined $30,000 for safety violations, including for having failed to provide maintenance schedules and other information to park owners.

    Gillian's Wonderland Pier was fined $25,000 for having operated the ride without the proper lap bar adjustment and for having made modifications to the ride which were not authorized.

    William Connelly, the director of New Jersey's Division of Codes and Standards, has called for new state legislation in the wake of the investigation. He says that lawmakers should give the state authority over amusement ride manufacturers, and that the fine for a ride safety violation should increase from $5,000 to $50,000.

    The Wild Wonder roller coaster no longer operates at Gillian's Wonderland Pier.


    Lake Compounce cited for "serious" violation of safety regulations

    (Friday, January 21, 2000) - Connecticut's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Lake Compounce Amusement Park for what it calls a serious violation of safety regulations. The action comes in response to last summer's fatal accident on the park's Tornado ride. A 16-year-old employee was killed after he was struck by the ride, then swept underneath it before it had stopped.

    OSHA says that there were "feasible and acceptable methods" which the park should have used to prevent employees from entering the area of ride rotation. The citation says that Lake Compounce "did not furnish employment and a place of employment which were free from recognized hazards and that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees."

    OSHA also proposed several specific methods that the park can implement to prevent similar accidents from happening.

    Lake Compounce faces a maximum fine of $7,000. The park has 15 days to respond to the citation.

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    Disney World ordered to pay nearly $1 million in Grand Prix collision

    (Tuesday, January 14, 2000) - An Orange County, Florida jury has ordered Walt Disney World to pay $841,535 to a Miami man who claims he sustained injuries to his back and neck when another car bumped his several times on the Grand Prix Raceway at Disney's Magic Kingdom in 1995.

    He was taken to the park's first aid station following the incident, then transported to a local hospital where he was held overnight for observation. He was released from the hospital the following morning.

    The man's lawyers argued that he could never again be gainfully employed due to his injuries. They also argued that Disney failed to maintain its premises and vehicles in a reasonably safe condition.

    The man's lawyers expect to collect the entire amount of the award.


    OABA raises $300,000 for B&B, Gill defense; list of donors kept secret

    Thirty-three days after this report was posted at this website, the list of donors was published in Amusement Business magazine.

    (Wednesday, January 5, 2000) - The director of the Outdoor Amusement Business Association, Robert Johnson, says that his organization has raised nearly $300,000 to support the legal defense of the owners of B&B Amusements and Bob G. Gill and Associates. The OABA founded its Amusement Industry Defense Fund in 1998 in response to criminal charges which stemmed from the 1998 Himalaya accident which killed a girl at a Texas fair. Robert Merten, Gill and their companies are currently facing manslaughter charges in connection with the accident.

    Johnson also refused to release any information about defense fund contributors.

    "We do not publish the details of this information as per my board's direction," said Johnson. "I can tell you that since October of 1998, we have raised close to $300,000 from auctions, fund raisers and donations from (OABA) members, ride manufacturers, suppliers and insurance companies."

    The OABA represents mobile amusement owners, concessionaires and suppliers to the North American carnival industry. It claims close to 5,000 members.

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