2004 NEWS ARCHIVE

JANUARY

  • Boy, 5, in critical condition after fall from Jeepers roller coaster (1/4/04)
  • Boy injured on 'Men in Black' ride at Universal Studios (1/8/04)
  • Girl, 6, thrown from Sizzler, injured (1/10/04)
  • Family sues carnival company (1/13/04)
  • Woman sues Six Flags (1/14/04)
  • Tree falls on chairlift cable at Dreamland; 60 rescued (1/17/04)
  • Three face criminal charges in Ohio bumper car death (1/17/04)
  • Carriage flies off carnival ride; 3 children injured (1/17/04)
  • Structural failure blamed in Cliff Hanger accident; fair bans ride (1/20/04)
  • Florida orders all Cliff Hanger rides shut down (1/21/04)
  • Amusements of Buffalo owner charged with manslaughter, reckless homicide (1/24/04)

    FEBRUARY

  • Carnival ride catches fire; 3 injured (2/1/04)
  • Disney worker killed at Magic Kingdom (2/11/04)

    MARCH

  • Gravitron malfunctions at Texas fair (3/7/04)
  • Woman, 51, killed in fall from Tennessee ride (3/14/04)
  • Boy, 6, injured in fall from Ferris wheel (3/20/04)

    APRIL

  • Gravitron accident injures seven at Florida fair (4/3/04)
  • Disneyland's Thunder Mountain Railroad crashes -- again; ride operators faulted -- again (4/4/04)
  • Gravitron cited ten times since 2002 (4/6/04)
  • Gravitron rides banned in Florida (4/7/04)
  • Six Flags Magic Mountain employee struck by roller coaster, killed (4/8/04)
  • OSHA report faults 2 workers in latest Disneyland coaster crash (4/13/04)
  • Girl, 16, dead after 100-foot fall from Intamin's Hydro river plunge ride (4/15/04)
  • Girl, 13, injured in fall from Ferris wheel (4/17/04)
  • Carnival worker killed in accident (4/22/04)
  • New bill would prohibit minors from operating amusement rides (4/23/04)

    MAY

  • Carnival ride malfunctions, strands riders at California fair (5/1/04)
  • Man killed in fall from Intamin's Superman Ride of Steel roller coaster at Six Flags New England (5/1/04)
  • Witnesses: victim's restraints not checked; lap bar was up (5/6/04)
  • Investigators: Superman victim was not secured; park workers should have turned him away (5/7/04)
  • Six Flags, Intamin to modify Superman Ride of Steel restraint system (5/7/04)
  • Turbo Rocket inflatable collapses; nine hospitalized (5/7/04)
  • Carnival worker arrested, charged with drunkenness after child falls from ride (5/15/04)
  • Three Coleman Brothers rides fail inspection (5/19/04)
  • Girl, 7, killed in fall from Scrambler at Playland (5/22/04)
  • Police: girl turned to wave to friends before fatal fall from ride (5/24/04)
  • Superman Ride of Steel ready to reopen with new safety restrains (5/28/04)
  • Riders stranded on roller coaster in Hawaii (5/31/04)

    JUNE

  • Worker climbs across roller coaster track, struck by train (6/1/04)
  • Intamin's Superman The Escape and Xcelerator roller coasters closed in California (6/1/04)
  • Playland to modify Mind Scrambler (6/3/04)
  • Matterhorn derails at carnival (6/4/04)
  • Paratrooper collapses at London fair; 13 injured
  • Fair worker guilty in bumper car death case (6/9/04)
  • CPSC, Wisdom Industries announce revised safety inspection program for Gravitrons (6/9/04)
  • Amusements of Buffalo owner pleads guilty in bumper car death case (6/11/04)
  • Two injured at Virginia carnival (6/12/04)
  • Ride injuries claim life of Six Flags mechanic (6/15/04)
  • Four injured at Del Mar Fair (6/19/04)
  • Another inflatable ride collapses; 8 children injured (6/27/04)
  • Wicksteed park fined in train accident (6/28/04)
  • Ride operator struck by Ali Baba ride (6/28/04)
  • Riders stranded aboard cable cars at Alton Towers (6/29/04)

    JULY

  • Carnival worker arrested, accused of operating ride while intoxicated (7/4/04)
  • Boy, 4, dies from water park injuries (7/6/04)
  • Fair worker sentenced in bumper car death case (7/7/04)
  • Another collision on Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad; 3 injured (7/8/04)
  • State closes Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (7/9/04)
  • Carnival ride stalls, strands passengers (7/11/04)
  • Amusements of Buffalo owner given 6 months in jail in bumper car death case (7/12/04)
  • Accident on Cedar Point's Top Thrill Dragster injures riders (7/14/04)
  • Teen drowns at Connecticut amusement park (7/16/04)
  • Gravitron owner cited (7/26/04)
  • Another Titanic inflatable ride collapses; 9 injured (7/30/04)
  • Spider ride malfunction injures 2 at fair (7/25/04)

    AUGUST

  • Girl, 3, dies at North Carolina water park (8/2/04)
  • Girl, 14, killed in bungee ride mishap (8/9/04)
  • Woman injured on Sizzler ride at carnival (8/14/04)
  • Another inflatable slide accident; 7 injured (8/14/04)
  • Boy, 13, dies from water park injury (8/20/04)
  • Carnival worker electrocuted in New Hampshire (8/20/04)
  • Malfunction strands children aboard Ferris wheel (8/21/04)
  • Spider ride breaks apart; 4 injured (8/24/04)
  • Fairground worker killed while repairing carousel (8/24/04)
  • Fairground worker dies while inspecting cable car ride (8/25/04)
  • Carnival worker electrocuted in Maryland (8/25/04)
  • Roller coaster car derails at Playland; no injuries (8/26/04)
  • Teen injured in carnival ride accident (8/27/04)
  • Disneyland faulted for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad collision -- again (8/27/04)
  • Roller coaster malfunctions at California State Fair; 5 injured (8/28/04)
  • Boy thrown from roller coaster in New Jersey (8/28/04)

    SEPTEMBER

  • Ride malfunction injures 24 at Canadian National Exhibition (9/6/04)
  • Fair worker struck by roller coaster (9/17/04)
  • Sizzler breaks apart at Massachusetts carnival; 1 killed (9/19/04)
  • Sizzler ride improperly bolted, say investigators (9/20/04)
  • Man dies after roller coaster mishap at Universal Orlando (9/22/04)
  • Woman injured at Universal Studios' Mummy roller coaster (9/23/04)
  • Massachusetts announces new system of inspections for carnival rides (9/25/04)
  • Tennessee park manager charged with murder (9/29/04)

    OCTOBER

  • Kentucky fair ride malfunctions, 7 injured (10/1/04)
  • Police: operator of derailed carnival ride charged with alcohol intoxication (10/5/04)
  • Ten injured on Wave Swinger (10/6/04)
  • Another inflatable ride accident; 3 children injured (10/16/04)
  • CPSC, Wisdom announce revised safety inspection program for Sizzlers (10/18/04)
  • Guilty plea in rock climbing wall death (10/21/04)
  • Carnival worker injured (10/26/04)
  • Sizzler accident report released (10/28/04)

    NOVEMBER

  • Himalaya ride malfunctions (11/3/04)
  • Roller coaster owner fined for mishap (11/4/04)
  • Jaro Amusements responds to DPS report (11/7/04)
  • Ride inspector sentenced in Ohio bumper car death (11/8/04)
  • CPSC reports 'Hawk' investigation findings (11/18/04)


  • CPSC reports 'Hawk' investigation findings

    (Thursday, November 18, 2004) - Last month, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported its investigation into the March 14 Hawk amusement ride fatality at the Rockin' Raceway amusement park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

    CPSC INVESTIGATION REPORT
    HAWK AMUSEMENT RIDE INCIDENT
    ABBREVIATED REPORT

    Infomation contained in this abbreviated report was obtained from the Pigeon Forge Police Department ... and during an [on-site] visit at the incident scene. lnformation concerning the approximate weather conditions at the time of the incident was obtained from an historical weather web site. Information requested from Zamperla's attorney was not obtained during this investigation and for that reason is not a part of this investigative report. No autopsy on the deceased victim was performed and therefore that record does not exist. Efforts to contact the owner of the incident site, as well as the manager/maintenance manager of the incident site were unsuccessful. All hard copies obtained from the Pigeon Forge Police Department have been forwarded to the appropriate Compliance Officer.

    The victims involved in this incident were a 15-year-old male, a 54-year-old female, and a 50-year-old female. The 50-year-old female was the only fatality involved in the incident, with the other two victims escaping without injury. The physical characteristics of the two surviving victims were not known; however, the 50-year-old female victim was characterized as being "a heavy woman of short stature, 5'4" and approx. 230 - 250 Ibs." The physical and mental health of the victims was not known and could not be determined. The 50-year-old female was the mother of the 15-year-old male, and the 54-year-old female was related to both, but whether she was an aunt, cousin, or in-law was not able to be determined. According to the Pigeon Forge Police Department, neither alcoholic beverages nor drugs, legal or illegal, were involved by either the victims or the operator of the ride involved in this incident.

    On 3/14/04, at approximately 12:15 P.M. the three victims began riding an amusement ride at a local arcade/amusement park in Pigeon Forge, TN... The three victims were the only ones on that ride and were placed in the first car of that ride, with the 50-year-old victim being placed in the third seat. All [were] supposedly locked into their respective seats by the [ride's] operator with an over-the-shoulder restraint system prior to the ride being started.

    Shortly after the ride started, exact time not able to be determined; all three of the victims began to yell down to the ride's operator that the 50-year-old victim's safety harness was not locked. The operator of the ride began hitting buttons to try and stop the ride, but with no success. The ride, designed to go completely around/upside-down, finally reached a position of approximately 210 degrees and the 50-year-old female was ejected from her seat and fell approximately 60' to 65'.

    As she fell the 60' to 65', the back of her head made contact with an air compressor on the back side of the ride and she then Ianded on her back on a concrete pad that supported the ride.

    Shortly after the incident, 911 was notified, with the local police department getting the alarm at approximately 12:16 P.M. and an officer arrived on the scene at approximately 12:17 P.M. EMS personnel arrived a short time later, time not known, and the 50-year-old victim was pronounced dead at the scene. The scene was immediately sealed off, to include the ride, by the local police department and investigation into the cause began. Officers were placed at the incident site and remained on duty 24/7 during the investigation, keeping everyone away from the ride.

    The following day, all interested parties met at the ride and began an examination. Pictures were taken of the electrical panel as well as various other aspects of the ride. It was noted during the investigation that alligator clips had been used inside the electrical panel to bypass the ride's safety systems and the local police department called in a P.E. from California to do an investigation. At that same time, the Lead Criminal lnvestigator of the local police department ascertained that the manager/maintenance manager of the facility was the only person that conducted maintenance on the rides at the facility and that that person had not maintained any type of maintenance log for that ride.

    The aforementioned P.E. did an investigation and submitted his report to police department on 4/27/04. It was the opinion of the P.E. that the incident occurred because of the following reasons:
    1. Intentional destruction of the ride safety systems
    2. Ride operator inappropriately or inadequately trained
    3. At a minimum, the following standards were violated: ASTM F 770-93 (Reapproved 2000) Standard Practice for Operation Procedures for Amusement Rides and Devices Sections 4.1 through 4.3; and ASTM F 353-98 Standard Practice for Maintenance Procedures for Amusement Ride and Devices Sections 6.1 through 6.4.3, and in particular, section 6.3.4.

    DESCRIPTION OF THE INCIDENT

    I have not reviewed any official report of the incident or seen any witness statements. My understanding of the events is as follows:
    The victim... entered the ride and was placed into seat no. 1. There were also other riders in seats nos. 2 and 3, but no other riders were aboard the machine. She pulled the "over the shoulder" restraint down until it contacted her body. The ride operator reportedly stated that he checked the position of the restraints and also pulled each restraint in order to validate that they were locked into position.
    As the ride began to swing, [the victim] and her party began to call to the operator that her restraint was opening, and to stop the ride. [The victim] was a heavy woman of short stature, (5'4" and approx. 230-250 lbs.).
    The operator claims to have initiated the "GO STATION" command on the control panel several times, followed by striking the Emergency Stop button.
    The ride however, continued to swing higher, eventually going over the top. At some point at or near the peak position, [the victim] engaged from her seat and fell approximately 65' to her death.

    INVESTIGATION OBSERVATIONS

    At 9:00 AM on March 24, 2004, I arrived at a small park ... in Pigeon Forge, TN, the location of the incident. I was met by Rene Kendall and Wayne Knight of the Pigeon Forge Police Department. They escorted me to [the ride] and provided the background information given in [the above description of the incident].
    I performed a visual examination of the ride to familiarize myself with the positions of the mechanical and operational aspects of the ride and the point of impact of [the victim].
  • Seat no. 1 ... was found with the restraint unit in a lower position, with lap bar locking pins extended, but not engaged into the locking plates located on the sides of the seat. The pins were checked for motion and spring operation by forcing them into the retracted position by hand. The pins could be forced into the lap bar by hand, but snapped rapidly back to the locking position (extended) when released. Seats 2 and 3 were locked down...
  • Mr. Knight informed me that when he inspected the seats just following the incident, the restraint device of seat no. 1 was fully extended in the up position. Seats 2 and 3 were locked down...
  • The restraint of seat no. 1 was moveable upward, with approximately 40 lbs of force (my estimate). It returned rapidly and with force to the down position when released.
  • The cover over the rear of the seat, which houses the restraint operating cylinder and other mechanisms and controls, was removed for inspection of the locking pin, air cylinder, and locking plates. The locking pin mounted on the restraint lifting cylinder behind the seat was not engaged.
  • The Control Panel was examined with the following items noted: The E-Stop button is a spring return rather than a detent style button. The particular part number could not be located in the manufacturer's web catalog. No further information is known about its operation.
  • The "Close Safety Bars" button was broken.
  • Within the main electrical panel, several wires had diagonal cuts into their insulation, exposing the conductor. These cuts were clearly intentional and were the type of cut typically made for "jumping out", or accessing the out wire. The wires noted with cuts were numbers 120, 126, 143, 144, 145, 146 and 175.
  • A red jumper wire connected wires 142 and 143.
  • A black jumper wire was shown to me and I was informed by Mr. Knight and Mr. Kendall that following the incident, the black jumper connected wires 144 and 145.
  • Another un-numbered wire was found with a yellow jumper spliced into it, but the clips were not connected to any other wires.

    11:15 AM
    An electrician (Bill Bradley), from the City of Pigeon Forge arrived on site at my request to test the functionality of the certain components of the safety control system.

  • We attempted to put power to the ride by actuating the main breaker in the electrical panel but were unsuccessful.
  • I asked Mr. Bradley to test the functionality of the restraint locking pin micro switches in seat no. 1.
  • Micro switches on the left and right side of the lap bar portion of the restraint were exposed, manually manipulated and checked for electrical continuity. Both switches were found to function properly.
  • The cam operated micro switch on the pneumatic lifting cylinder, which confirms the position of the restraint, was exposed, manually manipulated and checked for electrical continuity. This switch was found to function properly.
  • The locking pin micro switch on the pneumatic lifting cylinder, which confirms that the locking pin has engaged, was exposed, manually manipulated and checked for electrical continuity. This switch was found to function properly for the locked position. Because the harness was now locked in a down position, we could not move it to an open position to check the validity of the micro switch for that position.

    12:32 PM
    Concluded site inspection.

    For more information about the CPSC report, visit http://www.masstort.org.


  • Ride inspector sentenced in Ohio bumper car death

    (Monday, November 8, 2004) - Theodore Brubaker, a 44-year-old inspector who works for the Ohio Department of Agriculture, was sentenced to 15 days in jail in connection with last year's death of an 8-year-old boy who was shocked while standing in line to ride a bumper car ride at Ohio's Lake County Fair. Brubaker argued that it was not his responsibility to inspect the ride's electrical connections, however the judge in the case noted that Brubaker had indicated in an inspection report that the ride was grounded when it was not.

    Brubaker pleaded no contest and was found guilty of dereliction of duty.

    In July, the electrician who worked for the fair was also sentenced for his role in the accident. Nick Rock was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide for having improperly wired the ride. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and 200 hours of community service. Also in July, ride owner Eugene Chaffee was sentenced to six months in jail after he pleaded guilty to attempted involuntary manslaughter. Another ride inspector, who has already pleaded no contest to a charge of dereliction of duty, is expected to be sentenced next month.

    RELATED STORIES:

  • Boy, 8, severely shocked on bumper car ride at Ohio fair (8/13/03)
  • Boy, 8, dies from bumper car ride injury (9/4/03)
  • Three face criminal charges in Ohio bumper car death (1/17/04)
  • Carnival owner charged with manslaughter, reckless homicide (1/24/04)
  • Fair worker guilty in bumper car death case (6/9/04)
  • Amusements of Buffalo owner pleads guilty in bumper car death case (6/11/04)
  • Fair worker sentenced in bumper car death case (7/7/04)
  • Amusements of Buffalo owner given 6 months in jail in bumper car death (7/12/04)


    Jaro Amusements responds to DPS report

    (Sunday, November 7, 2004) - Jaro Amusements has released a statement in response to the accident investigation report issued last week by the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety in connection with last month's Sizzler fatality.

    PRESS RELEASE
    JARO AMUSEMENTS, INC.
    CARLISLE, MASSACHUSETTS

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    JARO AMUSEMENTS CRITICAL OF
    DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY REPORT

    (Carlisle, MA 11/7/04) - In recent weeks, the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety (DPS) has faced blistering attacks and criticism, leveled against it by both insurance inspectors and Worcester County District Attorney John Conte, for failing to meet its regulatory obligations. The DPS responded by issuing a self-serving report on the September 19, 2004 Shrewsbury Sizzler incident. This report is a blatant attempt by the DPS to turn the spotlight away from its own shortcomings, and admittedly dismal performance, towards the owner of the Sizzler ride, Jaro Amusements, Inc.

    Jaro has faithfully followed its regulatory obligations with regard to the Sizzler and all of its other rides. As an operator of traveling amusement devices, Jaro has each year had an annual inspection performed by an inspector certified to do so by the DPS, received annual permits to operate its rides, and relied upon the DPS to perform its duties. However, Jaro, as well as the citizens of the Commonwealth, have been let down by the DPS.

    With regard to the DPS's report of the Sizzler incident, Jaro notes that the DPS glaringly fails to mention DPS's admitted failures to inspect the Sizzler ride as a contributing factor to the incident. The DPS has, in statements to the press, repeatedly denied responsibility for inspecting the bolts it says contributed to the incident; however, the regulation governing amusement device inspections, 520 CMR 5.13(3), clearly states that DPS inspectors are to "... perform a general safety inspection that includes ensuring proper bolting, pins, clips, proper blocking, grounding, proper condition of safety devices including restraints and emergency stops and over-speed devices, &, and to ensure that the overall condition of the ride and passenger carrying devices deemed same for public operation".

    Jaro also points to a number of inaccuracies in the DPS report. The report states that there were alterations or modifications to the ride. However, Jaro never altered or modified the Sizzler, and the DPS report fails to state this fact. Furthermore, Jaro has properly maintained all documents required by State regulations, including the daily inspection log for the Sizzler ride for the day of the incident. Jaro never told the DPS that no maintenance was performed. The DPS did not ever ask for the daily inspection logs for the Sizzler that predated the date of the incident. These logs, preserved by Jaro and provided to District Attorney Conte when they were requested by his office, include all maintenance information for the Sizzler for the period of time that the ride has been owned by Jaro.

    These inadequacies in the DPS report beg the question: are the DPS inspectors that wrote the report qualified to do so? The two inspectors for DPS who responded to the accident were the Commissioner of DPS, Thomas Gatzunis, and the Chief of Inspections for DPS, Mark Mooney. Commissioner Gatzunis is a Professional Engineer; however, he has no expertise in the amusement ride field and holds no certifications to inspect amusement devices. Mr. Mooney has not kept his Level II NAARSO certification current. Therefore, these two inspectors are not certified by any recognized national organization to be qualified to inspect amusement devices. Finally, there is an irreconcilable conflict of interest that makes the DPS report suspect. The District Attorney of Worcester County, John Conte, is investigating the Shrewsbury incident, and has convened a Grand Jury to consider evidence. The DPS report states that the DPS investigated the matter jointly using the same State Police troopers as Mr. Conte. Using the same State Police troopers to investigate on behalf of both the District Attorney's office and the Department of Public Safety is highly improper in light of the DPS's own contributory failure to inspect the Sizzler ride and to otherwise comply with Massachusetts amusement device regulations. Jaro has serious concerns that the State Police, who are members of the same Executive Office of Public Safety as the DPS, may be inclined to deflect their investigation away from the DPS's serious and admitted shortcomings.

    For more information contact: Alan E. Ramsay, Spokesperson for Jaro Amusements, Inc. 401-692-0876.


    Roller coaster owner fined for mishap

    (Thursday, November 4, 2004) - The owner of a roller coaster ride which was opened to passengers even though it was missing a section of its track, was fined for putting passengers in danger. The Brighton Marine Palace and Pier Company, owners of the Turbo roller coaster located in Brighton, England, was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £22,109 in costs after it admitted that it failed to ensure the health and safety of riders.

    The mishap occurred in December of 2002 at Brighton Pier. Neither the operator of the roller coaster nor the passengers were aware that a 16-foot-long section of the ride's track had been removed for routine maintenance. Twelve people were allowed to board the ride. As the train of cars neared the end of the ride, where the track section was missing, the operator noticed the gap and engaged the ride's emergency stop brakes. The brakes stopped the train just in time, leaving the front car hanging off the edge of the track. The passengers were not injured.

    A spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive said, "What that meant is that innocent members of the public were allowed to use a ride that was in a highly dangerous state and that is clearly unacceptable."

    RELATED STORY
  • Roller coaster car derails; ride was closed for maintenance (12/12/02)


    Himalaya ride malfunctions

    (Wednesday, November 3, 2004) - At a fair in Albany, Georgia, five people suffered minor injuries when a Himalaya ride malfunctioned. The ride automatically shut itself down in accordance with its design, however the sudden stop led to the riders' complaints of whiplash.


    DPS stands by its report on fatal ride
    - Associated Press, November 9, 2004
    Ride owner disputes investigation finding in fatal fair accident
    - Associated Press, November 8, 2004
    DA to look at intentional bolt errors in Sizzler accident
    - Shrewsbury Chronicle, November 3, 2004
    DA convenes grand jury on Sizzler
    - Shrewsbury Chronicle, October 27, 2004

    Sizzler accident report released

    (Thursday, October 28, 2004) - The Massachusetts Department of Public Safety has released the accident report it is filing in connection with the September 19 Sizzler amusement ride fatality in Shrewsbury.

    COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
    DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY
    ACCIDENT REPORT
    OCTOBER 28, 2004
    JARO AMUSEMENTS, SHREWSBURY, MA
    SIZZLER AMUSEMENT ACCIDENT
    ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION

    BACKGROUND

    On September 19, 2004 at approximately 1430 hours, a Sizzler amusement ride accident occurred at St. Mary's Church, 646 Main Street, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. The ride was manufactured by Wisdom Manufacturing Company of Merino, Colorado and owned by Jaro Amusements Incorporated of Carlisle, Massachusetts. Within a half hour of the incident, the Shrewsbury Police Department contacted the Massachusetts State Police who in turn contacted the Department of Public Safety. Local and State Police secured the scene and started a preliminary investigation. Thomas G. Gatzunis, Commissioner of Public Safety, arrived on the scene at 1530 hours and Mark F. Mooney, Assistant Chief of Inspections of the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety arrived at 1630 hours to assist in the investigation pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 140, Section 205A. The victims of the accident... were given medical treatment on the scene and transported to local hospitals. [One of the victims] was later pronounced dead at UMass Memorial Center in Worcester, Massachusetts.

    FACTUAL FINDINGS

    Based on witness statements, photographs and inspector observations, Department of Public Safety Inspectors make the following Findings of Fact:

    The victims... were riding in car #6 on the Sizzler amusement ride when the car catastrophicaIly faiIed.

    Inspectors observed that all car lap restraints were secured with 5/8" bolts and lock nuts, as required by the manufacturer, except for the inside bolt on car #6. This bolt did not have any nut attached to it immediately following the failure. A 5/8" nut was observed in the failed car. This type of nut does not comply with the manufacturer's requirements. The nut securing the 5/8" bolt supporting the inside lap restraint backed itself off prior to the catastrophic failure.

    The manufacturer requires the cars be secured to the sweep with four (4) 7/16" grade 5 bolts screwed into tapped holes in the sweep. A close observation of the rear tapped hole on the sweep for the outside panel revealed deformation consistent with excessive horizontal force. A sheared 3/8" bolt and nut was found in the area consistent with the angle of projected failure. The damage was consistent with the undersized bolt used to secure the side panel. Additionally, the channel iron which creates the side panel demonstrated slight deformation at the bolt hole identical with the 3/8" bolt head.

    Observation of the bolt remaining in the front hole on the sweep for the outside panel showed no substantial signs of excessive force. It was noted, however, that the head of that bolt was missing. Further testing and analysis is required in order to determine exactly how and when the bolt head was removed. A determination as to whether the bolt head was intentionally removed or if it failed due to lamination, over tightening, or some other manufacturing defect is within the scope of the District Attorney's investigation.

    Failure to have the proper lock nut on the 5/8" lap restraint bolt enabled the nut to gradually work itself off the bolt each time the lap restraint was moved into position. As the nut worked itself loose, this created some misalignment of the lap restraint that would make it difficult to move the lap bar into proper position. Witnesses who rode the ride in the days prior to the incident indicated difficulty moving the restraint into position and in some cases moved to another car as a result of the difficulty moving the restraint.

    Department of Public Safety Inspectors requested both maintenance logs and ride operator logs. They were informed by Brian McCullough, the maintenance manager, and owner Jack Keough that there were no ride maintenance logs because no maintenance had been performed. Mr. Keough did produce the ride operator logs.

    The Sizzler Operators Manual instructs the owner/operator to perform various maintenance procedures on the ride. Specifically, the owner/operator is instructed to:

  • Daily check that the foot tub hinge bolts are secure
  • Daily raise lap bar and check lap bar hinge bolts and ear for wear
  • Lubricate various components at various times
  • Weekly check each hinge bolt and nut, and to replace all loose nuts with new lock nuts
  • Annually inspect the car body and frame assembly mounting bolts for loose or missing bolts and to replace as needed

    The annual report from the 3rd party insurance inspector indicated that the ride was in accordance with the manufacturer's specification at that time (March 2004).

    In August of 1994, Wisdom Manufacturing Company sent a Required Inspection Notice to all Sizzler Ride Owners. A copy of the bulletin was found in the owner's manual supplied to the investigators by Jaro Amusements. This notice contained specific references, recommendations and procedures regarding the seat mounting bolts.

    In May of 1997, Wisdom Manufacturing Company sent out a bulletin regarding the Sizzler foot tub. This bulletin required daily inspections of the pivot hole on each foot tub. This bulletin was also found in the owner's manual supplied to the investigators by Jaro.

    These bulletins indicate that the manufacturer was aware of the potential problems with the attachment of the cars and the safety restraint system of the cars on the Sizzler Rides. The Manufacturer provided this information to the owners/operators. Jack Keough, owner of Jaro Amusements, admitted to Investigators Gatzunis and Mooney that no maintenance was performed on this ride. Jaro Amusements also failed to produce any maintenance reports upon request by Assistant Chief Mooney. Therefore, Jaro Amusements was unable to provide proof that the required maintenance and inspections contained within the bulletins had been performed.

    It is also noted that Jaro Amusements provided an itinerary that informed the Department that Jaro Amusements was scheduled to arrive at St. Mary's Church in Shrewsbury on September 19th and be in operation from September 23rd to the 25th, the following week. Jaro Amusements was set up and running the amusement device a week earlier. Jaro Amusements failed to notify the Department of any change in itinerary or to submit a revised itinerary. Jaro Amusements' operation of the ride on dates other than those listed in the itinerary filed with the Department is a violation of Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 140, Section 205A.

    CONCLUSIONS

    Department of Public Safety Inspectors concluded that the 5/8" standard nut twisted off the bolt and dropped into the inside of the car prior to the catastrophic event. With two adults in the car, having a combined weight of approximately 350 pounds, and the lap restraint no longer secured to the outer side panel or to the rest of the car, the full weight and force of the patrons in the ride was applied to the outer side panel. As the force increased, the panel began to tilt under the excessive stress. Since the front outside panel bolt head was missing, the panel rotated off the remaining front bolt stud leaving the entire force on the single undersized 3/8" bolt located on the rear outside panel. This bolt then yielded under the force resulting in the patrons being ejected from the ride.

    Based on this investigation, the Department has identified the following primary contributing factors:

    1. Improper replacement of nut on the inside 5/8" lap restraint bolt. The manufacturer requires that the 5/8" bolt be secured with a lock nut. The lock nut was replaced with a standard nut. Failure to use a lock nut enabled the nut to rotate off the lap restraint / foot carriage bolt.

    2. lmproper replacement of the nut and bolt on the rear outside panel that secures the panel to the secondary sweep. The manufacturer requires the outside panel be secured to the secondary sweep using two (2) 7/16" grade 5 bolts into a tapped hole in the secondary sweep. The rear 7/16" bolt was replaced with a smaller 3/8" bolt and nut through the same hole. This undersized bolt and nut could not withstand the stress forces exerted upon it.

    3. Altered bolt on the front outside panel that secures the panel to the secondary sweep. As stated in #2, the manufacturer requires the outside panel to be secured to the secondary sweep using two (2) 7/16" grade 5 bolts. The front 7/16 bolt head was missing. The remaining bolt stud was flush with the channel iron used to create the side panel which was attached to the sweep. The remaining stud could not withstand the stress forces exerted upon it.

    Other contributing factors and significant conclusions include:

    1. Improper Maintenance Procedures. The manufacturer requires that various maintenance procedures including; lubrication, inspection, repair and replacement of worn or broken parts be performed at various intervals throughout the season. Maintenance records are required to be available to the inspector in accordance with 520 CMR 5.03(2).

    2. Improper Notification of Itinerary. The Department of Public Safety was not notified in accordance with Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 140, Section 205A as well as 520 CMR 5.05(2). Jaro Amusements indicated the incorrect date on their itinerary they provided.

    Information contained within this report was obtained as a result of a joint investigation conducted by the Shrewsbury Police Department, State Police Detectives assigned to the Worcester County District Attorney's Office, and the Department of Public Safety.


  • Carnival worker injured

    (Tuesday, October 26, 2004) - A 64-year-old carnival worker was injured as he was working to dismantle a roller coaster called the Racing Coaster at the state fairgrounds in Raleigh, North Carolina. Reports indicate that he was struck by a 15-foot-long steel beam -- one of about 100 beams which form the support structure of the ride, called the Racing Coaster. The victim is an employee of Reithoffer Shows of Gibsonton, Florida. He suffered a broken leg or ankle and lacerations to his scalp.

    The North Carolina Department of Labor is investigating the accident.


    Guilty plea in rock climbing wall death

    (Thursday, October 21, 2004) - The owner of a portable rock climbing wall from which a 22-year-old girl fell in a fatal accident in Missouri last year, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault. Marcus Floyd admitted that he created reckless circumstances that caused the woman to fall from the ride. Initially, Floyd had been charged with involuntary manslaughter, however, a jury was unable to render a verdict in that case when it went to trial.

    The woman fell from the wall at a sporting event in Columbia, Missouri, on July 14, 2003. She fell 25 feet and landed on pavement. She died at a hospital within 24 hours.

    A police affidavit filed in connection with her death indicated that the woman's safety cable appeared to be rusted, and that that there was duct tape covering the point of break on the cable.

    Floyd was given a suspended sentence of two years of supervised probation and 30 days in jail.

    RELATED STORIES
  • Woman dies after fall from rock climbing wall (7/15/03)
  • Faulty cable blamed for rock climbing wall death (7/20/03)


    CPSC, Wisdom announce revised safety inspection program for Sizzlers

    (Monday, October 18, 2004) - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Wisdom Industries Ltd., of Sterling, Colo., are announcing a revised safety inspection program for the Sizzler and Deluxe Sizzler amusement rides. The Sizzler is a scrambling-type ride that rotates clockwise on a central mast while each of the three four-seat sections rotates counter-clockwise on its own mast. The ride accelerates rapidly, then slows almost to a stop, and then accelerates again. There are about 142 Sizzler rides in the U.S.

    On September 19, in Shrewsbury, Mass., a fatal incident involving a Sizzler occurred at a church-sponsored event. Two occupants of one seat were thrown from the ride when the end of the seat structure gave way. One of those victims died and the other was injured. One other person was injured on the ground.

    CPSC is investigating the causes of this incident and is working with Wisdom Industries to alert state and local officials and ride owners/operators to immediately perform critical safety inspections. CPSC is asking state and local officials to locate these rides and require owners to cease operation of the Sizzlers until they complete a thorough inspection to prevent future incidents. In brief, some of the elements of the inspection program include: inspect, grade and torque the four (4) internal frame bolts; inspect foottub hinge bolts for proper grade and all metal locknuts installed; inspect internal frame welds.

    These new safety inspection guidelines are being sent to all owners of Sizzler and Deluxe Sizzler rides, state inspectors and amusement ride insurers. CPSC recommends that owners not allow Sizzlers and Deluxe Sizzlers to operate until they have met the requirements of the new inspection program.


    Another inflatable ride accident; 3 children injured

    (Saturday, October 16, 2004) - At a carnival in Taylorsville, North Carolina, a gust of wind lifted an inflatable amusement ride and carried it into power lines. Several children were trapped inside, three of whom were treated at the scene for minor injuries.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    WorkSafe finds no safety breaches after show accident
    - Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 10/19/04
    Stricter safety measures slated for Perth Royal Show
    - Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 10/7/04

    Ten injured on Wave Swinger

    (Wednesday, October 6, 2004) - At the Western Australia Royal Show in Perth, Australia, a strong gust of wind blew a marquee into the path of a Wave Swinger ride, injuring ten riders. Most of the riders suffered only minor injuries, however five people were taken to the hospital, one of whom required minor surgery.

    The operator of the ride claims that the marquee was properly secured. The ride was reopened after inspectors deemed it safe for operation.

    The accident is under investigation.


    Police: operator of derailed carnival ride charged with alcohol intoxication

    (Tuesday, October 5, 2004) - The Paintsville, Kentucky, Police Department reports that the carnival worker who was operating a Himalaya ride which malfunctioned at a fair on Friday has been charged with alcohol intoxication. Seven people were injured when the ride, called the Himalaya, derailed at the Kentucky Apple Festival. No one was seriously injuried.


    Kentucky fair ride malfunctions, 7 injured

    (Friday, October 1, 2004) - At the Kentucky Apple Festival in Johnson County, Kentucky, several people were injured when a carnival ride derailed. Investigators say that a Himalaya ride came off its track, and several people were thrown to the ground. Injuries included broken bones, but none of the injuries is thought to be life-threatening.

    The accident is under investigation.


    CPSC report gives possible causes of Tennessee ride death
    - Mountain Press, October 17, 2004
    Family of woman killed in fall from ride files lawsuits, seeks $96 million
    - Associated Press, October 8, 2004
  • Tennessee park manager charged with murder

    ''This is more than just carelessness or someone not tightening a bolt.''
    - R. Price Nimmo, Nashville attorney representing victim's family

    (Wednesday, September 29, 2004) - The manager of the Rockin' Raceway amusement park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, has been indicted on murder charges in the wake of an accident at the park in March which killed a woman. Charles Stan Martin, 56, was charged with second-degree murder and reckless homicide by a Sevier County grand jury. He was arrested and released on $100,000 bond.

    The accident happened on March 14. A 51-year-old woman fell 60 feet from her seat on a ride called the Hawk when her safety harness flung open. Investigators say that a safety system had been bypassed. The system is designed to detect whether all of the riders' harnesses are properly locked. If the system detects a problem, it prevents the ride from starting.

    ''This is more than just carelessness or someone not tightening a bolt,'' says R. Price Nimmo, the attorney representing the family of the victim. He is planning to file a civil lawsuit on behalf of the victim's family in the near future.

    Martin faces 15 to 25 years in prison if convicted.


    Sizzler documents will be subpoenaed - MetroWest Daily News, October 22, 2004
    Massachusetts grand jury to investigate Sizzler fatality - WCVB News, October 21, 2004
    Wild ups, downs in Mass. carnival ride inspection- Boston Herald, October 12, 2004
    Union: plan to add 18 inspectors greatly inadequate - Boston Herald, October 8, 2004
    Inspectors union head: training, staff needed - Boston Herald, October 7, 2004
    Legislature sets hearing on carnival ride inspections - Boston Herald, October 1, 2004
    State withholds report as investigation continues - Boston Herald, September 30, 2004
    Fatal rides linked to slipshod inspections - Boston Globe, September 28, 2004

    Massachusetts announces new system of inspections for carnival rides

    Inspections will not cover ride parts such as the ones which caused fatal Sizzler accident

    (Saturday, September 25, 2004) - The Massachusetts Department of Public Safety has announced a new Amusement Safety Task Force whose purpose will be to review state oversight of the operation of carnival rides and to inspect every carnival ride in the state before the end of the year. The action comes in the wake of Sunday's fatal accident in which a Sizzler carnival ride broke apart, killing a man and injuring two others. The accident is being blamed on two bolts which held the victim's seat together. One of the bolts was improperly installed and the other broke. Investigators say that neither of the bolts met the design specifications of the ride's manufacturer.

    The state's six amusement ride inspectors will make up the new task force. They will inspect each carnival ride in the state as well as each ride's maintenance logs before the end of the year. In addition, they will begin a new system of marking the rides with stickers indicating that the ride passed an inspection within the last year.

    The work of the task force has already begun.

    The new system of inspections will not require that all of a ride's parts be inspected. Rather, state inspectors will examine only the parts of rides that are directly related to the assembly and disassembly of carnival rides as they are transported to different locations. The inspection of other parts, such as the bolts involved in Sunday's accident, is not the responsibility of state inspectors. Instead, that responsibility lies with the ride's insurer, which is required to perform a thorough inspection annually.

    The Sizzler was inspected in March by its insurer, a company called Allied Specialty Insurance, however investigators have not yet determined whether the faulty seat bolts were installed before or after that inspection.

    Initially, it was reported that the ride had passed a state inspection in July, however records show that the ride had not been inspected by the state since its owner purchased it in 2002. Regardless, the state inspection of the ride would not have included a check of the seat bolts.


    Woman injured at Universal Studios' Mummy roller coaster

    Second injury at ride this week

    (Thursday, September 23, 2004) - Three days after a man suffered a fatal fall while boarding the Revenge of the Mummy roller coaster at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, a woman was injured at the same ride when her arm got caught in a handrail. The ride was closed for a short time until it passed a safety inspection. The woman's condition is unknown.

    On Wednesday, a 39-year-old man fell as he was attempting to board the ride in the front row of seats. He fell off the loading platform and struck his head on the ride's steel track four feet below. He suffered from blunt trauma to the chest and abdomen. He underwent surgery at a hospital, but later died as a result of complications made worse by a pre-existing liver disease.

    Officials have not yet determined how the man was able to fall onto the ride's track. A park spokesman said that he "misstepped." The medical examiner ruled the death accidental, based on a park report and a statement from the man's wife, who did not witness the incident. Universal Studios is conducting its own investigation into what happened, however the results of that investigation will be kept secret.


    Man dies after roller coaster mishap at Universal Orlando

    (Wednesday, September 22, 2004) - A 39-year-old man died from complications following surgery he needed as a result of a mishap on the Revenge of the Mummy roller coaster at Universal Studios theme park in Orlando, Florida. On Tuesday, the man was attempting to board the ride in the front row of seats when he fell from the platform and struck his head on the ride's steel track.

    Universal Studios says that the ride did not malfunction. Park officials will investigate.


    Carnival insurer linked to other ride deaths
    - MetroWest Daily News, September 23, 2004

    "We have shut them down across the state."

    - Massachusetts Public Safety Commissioner Tom Gatzunis

    Sizzler ride improperly bolted, say investigators

    (Monday, September 20, 2004) - According to Massachusetts state investigators, the car that broke apart on a Sizzler ride at a carnival yesterday was incorrectly bolted together. Upon their examination of the debris from the victims' seat, investigators found that one of the bolts was the wrong size and another did not meet the specifications of the ride's manufacturer.

    A 38-year-old man was killed and a 48-year-old man was seriously injured when their car broke apart, ejected them and hurled them to the ground. One of them was subsequently struck by another of the ride's whirling cars. A woman who was standing by the ride suffered minor injuries when she was hit with debris.

    The Massachusetts Department of Public Safety has suspended permits for all 11 Sizzler amusement rides operating in the state, pending notification from the rides' owners that they have performed a complete re-inspection of their Sizzler units.

    "We have shut them down across the state," said Massachusetts Public Safety Commissioner Tom Gatzunis.

    The state-ordered inspection must include a thorough check of all the bolts, which means that owners must remove the fiberglass seat and side panel from each car.

    In 1994, Wisdom Industries, the company that manufactures Sizzler rides, released a safety bulletin addressing the maintenance and inspection of the rides, in particular, their seat mounting bolts, requiring owners to inspect them on a regular basis.

    The Sizzler involved in Sunday's accident was manufactured by Wisdom in 1980. The ride's owner, Jaro Amusements of Carlisle, Mass., bought the ride used in 2002.

    Gatzunis says that the ride passed a state inspection in July, but that state inspections do not include a check of the bolts. State inspectors do not check the condition and maintenance of rides, but only how rides are set up, to ensure stability and safe clearances. The rest is left up to insurance companies -- in this case, a company called Allied Specialty. According to Gatzunis, insurers inspect rides once a year, at the start of the season.

    Statement of Jaro Amusements, Carlisle, MA
    September 21, 2004

    According to Jaro Amusements Spokesperson, Alan E. Ramsay of CLM Entertainment spoke with Jaro Amusements President Jack Keough today. On Sunday, September 19, 2004 a 38 year old man was killed and a 48 year old man was injured on the Sizzler Ride operated by Jaro Amusements while it was operating at St. Mary’s Parish Family Festival in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. This was the 4th time that Jaro Amusements had played the festival. Ramsay stated that Jaro Amusements President Jack Keough offers his deepest condolences to the victims, their families and friends.

    Jaro Amusements has been in business for over 30 years, previously known as Jaro Foods. Keough started as a concessionaire selling foods at various fairs and festivals. Keough has been involved in the amusement industry for over 40 years.

    "Jack Keough is a very active member in the amusement industry. He serves as a member of the Board of Directors for New England Association of Amusement and Attractions, a 91 year old amusement industry trade organization based in New England. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Outdoor Amusement Industry Association and serves on their Safety Committee.

    "Jack’s involvement with the industry does not stop there. He is also a member of the F24 committee on Amusement Rides and Devices for the American Society for Testing and Materials, (ASTM), the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials (NAARSO) as well as a member of the International Association of Fairs & Exhibitions and the Showmen’s League of America.

    "Also here at home in the Commonwealth, Jack Keough is a member of the Amusement Ride Advisory Board for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In fact, Jaro Amusements is a link on the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety’s website, " Ramsay stated.

    Jaro Amusements owns 16 rides and operates seasonally here in New England from April through October each year. Jaro Amusements acquired the Sizzler ride in 2002 from a carnival in the Midwest.

    Each year, Jaro Amusement’s rides are inspected by its insurance company. In addition, the ride has been inspected by officials in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and State Of New Hampshire.

    The ride previously operated at the end of July in Massachusetts at a fund-raising festival. The ride has been racked on its trailer in the interim until it was set up a few days prior to the opening of the event in Shrewsbury.

    "All ride operators that are employed with Jaro Amusements receive training by the company. The employees are trained by a staff person on the ride covering all aspects of the rides operation and important operational and safety information as required by the manufacturer. In addition, the trainer stays with the employee to ensure that the training has been completed and does follow-up checks with the employee. The ride operator who was operating the ride that day had been trained in a similar fashion," Ramsay stated.

    Informational Signage including ride rules and regulations as required by the manufacturer was posted at the ride entrance, as it is at every ride.

    Jaro Amusements expects that there will be a lengthy in depth investigation into this incident. Jaro Amusements has been contacted by the CPSC and is scheduling an appointment for officials from that agency to inspect the ride. We will be cooperating with them at all times to ensure they have access to all the information they need.


    Sizzler breaks apart at Massachusetts carnival; 1 killed

    (Sunday, September 19, 2004) - At a church carnival in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, one man was killed and another was critically injured when parts of a Sizzler ride broke apart. A third person suffered minor injuries and was treated at the scene.

    Witnesses say the two men fell out of their car when the outer side of their seat broke off. One of them was then struck by another of the ride's cars as he attempted to get away from the ride.

    The ride is owned and operated by Jaro Amusements of Carlisle, Massachusetts.

    The Massachusetts Department of Public Safety, the Worcester district attorney's office, and local police are investigating the accident. The National Consumer Product Safety Commission is also expected to investigate.

    Statement of Mass. Rep. Edward Markey:

    "For the sake of the riders who have been injured and for the children who may ride this or similar rides in the future, this accident should be investigated thoroughly. I am asking the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which has jurisdiction over carnival rides, to assist the state in getting to the bottom of this tragedy as soon as possible.
    "Statistics gathered by the CPSC suggest that more accidents occur on whirling, spinning rides than any other type except roller coasters. While many amusement park ride accidents are blamed on rider error, initial reports in this case suggest some catastrophic mechanical failure.
    "Hundreds of rides just like this one operate throughout the United States every day. We must find out why these machines flew apart so that the manufacturers and/of the operators make sure this never happens again."

    Rep. Markey is a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives and the author of the National Amusement Park Ride Safety Act, a bill to improve the oversight of amusement park rides throughout the United States.


    Fair worker struck by roller coaster

    (Friday, September 17, 2004) - At the Western Fair in Ontario, Canada, a ride operator was hospitalized after a roller coaster car struck him. The accident happened on the Zyklon roller coaster.

    Ontario's Labour Ministry is investigating.


    Ride malfunction injures 24 at Canadian National Exhibition

    (Monday, September 6, 2004) - At the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, 24 people suffered minor injuries when a ride called
    G-Force malfunctioned.

    The ride consists of a circular spinning gondola that is lifted about 20 feet into the air where it is then turned upside down as it spins. Witnesses say they watched as the ride seemed to jam and stop suddenly as it lifted riders into the air. The ride then dropped 12-15 feet. Reports indicate that parts of the ride platform came apart and the wooden stairs leading to the ride were crushed.

    The victims were taken to local hospitals with minor injuries such as sore backs and necks.

    The ride is owned by Conklin Shows. It was closed for repairs on Saturday, however it passed an inspection on Sunday. Investigators have not determined whether Saturday's maintenance issue is related to the accident.

    RELATED STORIES -- CONKLIN SHOWS:

  • 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)
  • Conklin Shows settles 1995 injury case for $775,000 (7/26/00)
  • Boy, 2, loses thumb on kiddie ride at Florida fair (1/19/01)
  • Ride injures girl at Alabama fair (10/18/01)


    Boy thrown from roller coaster in New Jersey

    (Saturday, August 28, 2004) - At Playland Park in Ocean City, New Jersey, a young boy was injured in an accident on a kiddie roller coaster called the
    Sea Serpent. Witnesses say that the boy was thrown from the ride and landed between two cars. His injuries are not life-threatening.

    Police have ordered the ride closed while state inspectors are expected to investigate.


    Roller coaster malfunctions at California State Fair; 5 injured

    (Saturday, August 28, 2004) - Five people were injured at the California State Fair in Sacramento, California, when a roller coaster ride called the
    Hi-Miler malfunctioned. Officials are blaming the accident on a traction problem. Apparently, the ride's lift chain failed to catch one of the ride's cars as it approached the lift incline. The car then rolled backwards and came to an abrupt stop. Those who were injured complained of minor neck and back injuries and were taken to hospitals for treatment.

    The ride is owned and operated by Ray Cammack Shows.

    The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating.


    Disneyland faulted for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad collision -- again

    (Friday, August 27, 2004) - The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) has concluded its investigation into last month's accident on Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster. In a report issued by OSHA, investigators say that a ride operator's mistake, coupled with a glitch in the ride's computer system, was to blame for the July 8 accident in which two of the ride's trains collided, injuring five people. The report says that the ride operator, who had been working for the park for just three days when the accident happened, performed procedures out of sequence.

    Disneyland officials agree with the findings of the report and have complied with a state order to retrain the operator and correct the software problem.

    Greg Hale, the chief safety officer of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, says that Disney remains at the "forefront of ride safety."

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    Teen injured in carnival ride accident

    (Friday, August 27, 2004) - A teenager was hospitalized with serious injuries after an accident on the Feuerball ride at the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville, Kentucky. Witnesses say that the victim may have entered a restricted area underneath the ride to retrieve a cell phone when he got caught and then crushed by the ride as it came to a stop.

    The ride, operated by Cumberland Valley Shows, consists of a circular gondola which seats 24 passengers. The gondola rotates at 15 rpm, and is attached to a swinging arm which swings to an angle of 120 degees at heights of up to 60 feet. It has been shut down as state inspectors and police investigate.


    Roller coaster car derails at Playland; no injuries

    (Thursday, August 26, 2004) - At Playland in Vancouver, British Columbia, a roller coaster car derailed as it made its way to the top of the lift hill. The accident happened on
    the Wooden Roller Coaster. Investigators say that the front car of the train became unhooked from the other cars and got caught on a piece of the track which had broken off. Fifteen people were aboard the ride but no one was injured. The ride was shut down immediately, but was expected to be repaired and reopened on Friday.


    Carnival worker electrocuted in Maryland

    (Wednesday, August 25, 2004) - In Cumberland, Maryland, a 22-year-old carnival worker was killed as he was working to set up electrical equipment. He was installing an electrical receptacle when an electrician accidentally turned the power on.

    Last Friday, another carnival worker was killed as he was working to set up a ride at a fairground in Belmont, New Hampshire. Investigators are blaming a frayed power cord for his death.


    Fairground worker dies while inspecting cable car ride

    (Wednesday, August 25, 2004) - A 59-year-old fairground worker became trapped on a cable car ride and died in a mishap at Pleasureland in Southport, Merseyside, England. Park officials say that the man, a mechanic, was performing a routine daily inspection of the Sky Ride when his shoulder became lodged in a part of the ride.

    Firefighters were called to the scene where they used special cutting and lifting devices to free the man, who had been trapped for about 45 minutes. Reports indicate the man suffered a heart attack at some point during his ordeal.

    The 30-year-old ride will remain closed while the Health and Safety Executive investigates.


    Fairground worker killed while repairing carousel

    (Tuesday, August 24, 2004) - At a fairground in Marazion, near Penzance in Cornwall, England, a 32-year-old fair worker was killed while has working to repair a carousel.

    The Health and Safety Executive is investigating.


    Spider ride breaks apart; 4 injured

    (Tuesday, August 24, 2004) - At Fun Plex amusement park in Omaha, Nebraska, four children were injured when a
    Spider ride broke apart. The accident happened when one of the ride's six whirling arms collapsed to the ground. The arm was carrying two two-passenger cars in which the victims were seated.

    The girls were taken to local hospitals where three of them were treated and relased and the other -- a 12-year-old girl who was at the park celebrating her birthday -- was hospitalized in fair condition.

    The ride passed a state inspection in June. Nebraska safety officials are investigating.

    A park spokeswoman told reporters, "We want to keep our track record going and definitely prevent anything like this from happening in the future."

    In November, 1988, a 17-year-old girl was killed when a similar ride broke apart at Florida's Broward County Fair. The arm carrying the victim's car snapped and, during its 10-foot fall to the ground, an adjacent arm, which was still whirling, crashed into the victim's car. The victim was struck in the back of the head. Six other riders were injured.

    In February, 1997, an 11-year-old girl was killed and two other people were seriously injured when an arm broke off an Octopus ride at the Rylstone fairgrounds near Mudgee, Australia. Investigators found that a bearing cap had cracked, causing the ride to collapse.

    In September, 1998, seven people were injured at the Lee County Fair in Sanford, North Carolina, when a Spider ride arm broke off and crashed to the ground. The ride had passed a state inspection just five days earlier.

    In October, 2003, four people were injured after a support arm fell off a ride called the Giant Octopus at Dream World amusement park in Pathum Thani, Thailand. The arm was carrying four 2-passenger cars. Three of the injured riders were hospitalized and the other was treated and released.

    RELATED STORIES:

  • Arm breaks off Monster ride, kills 17-year-old (11/23/88)
  • Arm breaks off Spider ride five days after inspection; 7 injured (9/26/98)
  • Deadly Octopus ride passed an inspection, says owner (10/14/99)
  • Owner of fatal Octopus ride acquitted (10/20/99)
  • Octopus ride malfunction injures 4 (10/19/03)
  • Spider ride malfunction injures 2 at fair (7/25/04)


    Malfunction strands children aboard Ferris wheel

    (Saturday, August 21, 2004) - At a carnival in Phoenicia, New York, five children became stranded on a Ferris wheel ride after an apparent malfunction. Witnesses say a cable broke. Firefighters were called to the scene and were able to evacuate the riders safely. No one was injured.


    Carnival worker electrocuted in New Hampshire

    (Friday, August 20, 2004) - An 18-year-old carnival worker was killed as he was working to set up a ride called Raiders at the Belknap County 4-H Fair in Belmont, New Hampshire. State investigators are ruling the death accidental and blame it on a chafed power cord. They say that the cord had apparently become damaged from vibrating against a distribution panel.

    No criminal charges will be filed.

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also investigating.

    The man was an employee of Fanelli Amusements.


    Boy, 13, dies from water park injury

    (Friday, August 20, 2004) - A 13-year-old boy died from internal injuries he suffered in an accident at Wacky Waters Adventure Park in Davenport, Iowa. Witnesses say that the boy fell from a rappelling rope into a pool of water.


    Another inflatable slide accident; 7 injured

    (Saturday, August 14, 2004) - At the Beaver County Fair in Minersville, Utah, seven children were thrown from a 20-foot-tall inflatable slide when it toppled over. A local fire chief says that the children were thrown from the ride as it toppled and reported seeing "kids lying everywhere." Some of the children were knocked unconscious when they hit the ground. All of them suffered scrapes, bruises and lacerations and were treated at a hospital.

    Police say that a gust of wind lifted the ride and tipped it upside down.

    The chairwoman of the fair refused to release the name of the ride's owner, who had packed up the ride and left the site within an hour of the accident.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    Woman injured on Sizzler ride at carnival

    (Saturday, August 14, 2004) - A woman was injured while riding a Sizzler ride at a church carnival in Ansonia, Connecticut. Witnesses say that a footrest broke off one of the ride's cars as it passed over the ride platform and then flew into the victim's car.

    The ride, operated by Rainbow Amusement, passed an inspection before the carnival opened on Thursday. It has been shut down while police are investigating.


    Girl, 14, killed in bungee ride mishap

    (Tuesday, August 9, 2004) - At an amusement park in Cologne, Germany, a 14-year-old girl was killed when the operators of a catapult-bungee ride released her carriage before her safety harness was secured. The carriage launched to 150 feet in the air, ejecting the victim, who fell to her death. A 16-year-old girl who was riding with the victim was able to cling to the carriage and avoid serious injury.

    According to witnesses, two ride attendants were in the process of securing the girls into their seats when the third attendant released the carriage.

    The ride has been closed pending an investigation. Three park employees face charges of negligent manslaughter.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    Girl, 3, dies at North Carolina water park

    (Monday, August 2, 2004) - At West Water Park in Kinston, North Carolina, a 3-year-old girl died after falling into a swimming pool. Police say that a park lifeguard saw the girl running along side the pool and then fall into the water. The lifeguard pulled the girl from the water, but she was unresponsive. She was rushed to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead.


    Another Titanic inflatable ride collapses; 9 injured

    (Friday, July 30, 2004) - In Tulalip, Washington, nine people were injured when an 30-foot-tall Titanic inflatable slide tipped over. Seven of the victims -- mostly children -- were hospitalized with injuries including broken arms and broken ribs. Witnesses say the slide appeared to be overloaded.

    Police are investigating.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    Gravitron owner cited

    (Monday, July 26, 2004) - ITRS, Inc., the owner of the Gravitron ride which injured three people at a Miami fair in April, has been cited by Florida's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for operating an unsafe ride. The West Palm Beach company faces a maximum state fine of $5,000.

    The ride broke apart at the Miami-Dade County Fair on April 3. Three riders were flung out of the ride and were seriously injured. Four other people suffered minor injuries.

    An engineer was hired by the department's Fair Rides Bureau to investigate the accident. He concluded that poor maintenance of the ride had led to extensive cracks in the frame, causing the accident.

    ITRS was hired by Conklin Shows, the fair's carnival operator.

    RELATED STORIES:

  • Gravitron accident injures seven at Florida fair (4/3/04)
  • Gravitron cited ten times since 2002 (4/6/04)


    Spider ride malfunction injures 2 at fair

    (Sunday, July 25, 2004) - A car carrying two riders separated from a Spider ride and fell to the ground at the Delaware State Fair in Harrington, Delaware. The riders were taken to a hospital where they were treated for minor injuries and released. The ride is owned and operated by Wade Shows.

    WADE SHOWS:

  • Carnival worker struck by Spider ride, seriously injured (5/26/03)
  • Carnival worker killed in accident (4/22/04)


    Teen drowns at Connecticut amusement park

    (Wednesday, July 16, 2004) - A 19-year-old man drowned at Lake Quassapaug Amusement Park in Middlebury, Connecticut. Reports indicate that park lifeguards brought him to shore 10 to 20 minutes after he went missing while swimming in the lake. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital two hours later.

    The man was a camp counselor and was at the park on an outing with a group of 350 people. He was reportedly a good swimmer.


    "We have to continue to work out some bugs."

    Cedar Point shuts down coaster after riders hurt

    - Toledo Blade, July 14, 2004

    Cedar Point roller coaster riders upset after incident

    - WLKY News, July 14, 2004

    Accident on Cedar Point's Top Thrill Dragster injures riders

    (Monday, July 14, 2004) - At Cedar Point park in Sandusky Ohio, four people were struck by flying debris while riding the Top Thrill Dragster roller coaster. Reports indicate that the ride's metal cable frayed as the train was being launched. Shards of metal then sheered off the cable and struck the riders as the train reached speeds of up to 120 miles per hour.

    The injured were left with cuts and minor injuries. Some riders also complained of minor burns caused by an oily substance.

    The injured riders were treated at the park's first aid station, and two of them sought further medical attention at a hospital.

    The ride has been shut down indefinitely.

    Top Thrill Dragster is the world's tallest and fastest roller coaster. It was designed and manufactured by Intamin of Switzerland.


    Amusements of Buffalo owner given 6 months in jail in bumper car death case

    Eugene Chaffee ordered to have no future involvement with carnivals

    (Monday, July 12, 2004) - Eugene Chaffee, the 48-year-old owner of Amusements of Buffalo, was sentenced to six months in jail in connection with last year's death of an 8-year-old boy who was shocked while standing in line to ride a bumper car ride at Ohio's Lake County Fair. He was also sentenced to two years probation and was ordered to have no future involvement with carnivals.

    Last week, an electrician who worked for the fair was also sentenced for his role in the accident. Nick Rock had been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide for having improperly wired the ride. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and 200 hours of community service.

    The case marks the first time in Ohio that an amusement ride fatality led to criminal charges.

    Ohio state inspectors Theodore Brubaker and Kalin Turner face charges of reckless homicide, involuntary manslaughter, and dereliction of duty in connection with the boy's death. Their case is expected to go to trial within months.

    RELATED STORIES:

  • Boy, 8, severely shocked on bumper car ride at Ohio fair (8/13/03)
  • Boy, 8, dies from bumper car ride injury (9/4/03)
  • Three face criminal charges in Ohio bumper car death (1/17/04)
  • Carnival owner charged with manslaughter, reckless homicide (1/24/04)
  • Fair worker guilty in bumper car death case (6/9/04)
  • Amusements of Buffalo owner pleads guilty in bumper car death case (6/11/04)
  • Fair worker sentenced in bumper car death case (7/7/04)


    Carnival ride stalls, strands passengers

    (Sunday, July 11, 2004) - At a carnival in Portage, Indiana, a ride called the Wind Shear stalled, leaving 12 children stranded 40 feet in the air for nearly two hours. It took carnival workers thirty minutes to realize they would be unable to restart the ride, and firefighters were called to the scene. They used a cherry picker to bring the riders to safety. No one was injured.

    The Wind Shear is owned and operated by Midwest Midways. The ride has been ordered closed until it passes another state inspection.


    Disney World had rigorous safety inspections even before accident

    - The Orlando Sentinel, September 12, 2003

    State closes Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

    Ride to remain closed for at least two weeks while state officials investigate accident

    (Friday, July 9, 2004) - The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) has closed Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to allow for an investigation into Thursday's accident in which two of the ride's trains collided. Officials say that the ride will remain closed for at least two weeks while they inspect the ride and search for answers into what caused the collision.

    Three people suffered minor neck and back injuries when the trains collided at the loading station. They were taken to a local hospital where they were treated and released hours later.

    The collision was the ride's third since September.

    Initially, park offiicials were planning to reopen the ride late Thursday evening, however state officials have yet to determine the cause of the accident. They say that the park may not reopen the ride until the investigation is complete, even if it should take several months.

    RELATED STORIES:

  • One killed, 10 injured in Disneyland roller coaster malfunction (9/5/03)
  • Disneyland faulted for poor training, poor maintenance in coaster death (11/26/03)
  • Thunder Mountain Railroad crashes -- again; ride operators faulted -- again (4/4/04)
  • OSHA report faults 2 workers in latest Disneyland coaster crash (4/13/04)
  • Another collision on Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad; 3 injured (7/8/04)


    Another collision on Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad; 3 injured

    Collision is ride's third since September

    (Thursday, July 8, 2004) - At Disneyland in Anaheim, California, three people suffered minor neck and back injuries when two roller coaster trains collided on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The accident happened as two trains were approaching the loading station.

    A Disneyland spokesman explained, "We had a bump of two coasters on Big Thunder. They were coming in at the loading station at a slow speed."

    Police say that the accident was "not serious enough to warrant a police investigation," however the ride was shut down and the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) is expected to investigate.

    Thursday's accident is the third time since September that trains have collided on the ride. Last September, a collision killed one person and injured 10 others. OSHA faulted the park for improper maintenance and poorly trained employees. In April, two unoccupied trains collided as ride operators restarted the ride. OSHA faulted the ride operators for failing to follow operating procedures when they rebooted the ride's computer system. OSHA ordered the park to retrain the operators.

    Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a runaway mine train-style steel roller coaster. It opened in 1979.

    RELATED STORIES:

  • One killed, 10 injured in Disneyland roller coaster malfunction (9/5/03)
  • Disneyland faulted for poor training, poor maintenance in coaster death (11/26/03)
  • Thunder Mountain Railroad crashes -- again; ride operators faulted -- again (4/4/04)
  • OSHA report faults 2 workers in latest Disneyland coaster crash (4/13/04)


    Fair worker sentenced in bumper car death case

    (Wednesday, July 7, 2004) - Ohio fair worker Nick Rock was sentenced to 30 days in jail and two years probation for his role in last year's accident at the Lake County Fair which led to the death of a child. Rock was found guilty last month on charges of involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide after a jury found that he improperly wired a bumper car ride. The victim, an 8-year-old boy, was severely shocked last August while he was waiting in line with his father to board the ride. He died three weeks later as a result of his injuries.

    The case marks the first time in Ohio that an amusement ride fatality led to criminal charges.

    Two Ohio state inspectors will also stand trial for charges of reckless homicide and involuntary manslaughter in connection with the accident. The owner of the ride has pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted involuntary manslaughter and is expected to be sentenced later this summer.

    RELATED STORIES:

  • Boy, 8, severely shocked on bumper car ride at Ohio fair (8/13/03)
  • Boy, 8, dies from bumper car ride injury (9/4/03)
  • Three face criminal charges in Ohio bumper car death (1/17/04)
  • Carnival owner charged with manslaughter, reckless homicide (1/24/04)
  • Fair worker guilty in bumper car death case (6/9/04)
  • Amusements of Buffalo owner pleads guilty in bumper car death case (6/11/04)


    Boy, 4, dies from water park injuries

    (Tuesday, July 6, 2004) - A 4-year-old boy died from injuries he suffered last Thursday at Water Works, a water park in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Lifeguards found the boy floating in five feet of water after he nearly drowned.

    The fatality is the park's first.


    Carnival worker arrested, accused of operating ride while intoxicated

    (Sunday, July 4, 2004) - At the Fairport Harbor Mardi Gras celebration in Fairport Harbor, Ohio, a worker who was operating a kiddie ride called the Lost Treasure was arrested for working while intoxicated. Police acted on a complaint from a patron.


    Riders stranded aboard cable cars at Alton Towers

    (Tuesday, June 29, 2004) - At Alton Towers theme park in North Staffs, England, eight people were rescued from the Skyride after a problem with one of the ride's gondolas was detected and the ride was shut down. Nearly 150 other passengers were left stranded inside the other gondolas during the rescue, which took three hours.

    Park officials say they are pleased with the rescue operation. No one was injured.


    Ride operator struck by Ali Baba ride

    (Monday, June 28, 2004) - At a fair in Cambridge, England, a 29-year-old ride operator was struck in the head by the platform of a swinging ride called the Ali Baba. He was hospitalized in critical condition.

    The ride did not malfunction, however it was shut down to allow for an investigation.

    None of the passengers was injured.


    Wicksteed park fined in train accident

    (Monday, June 28, 2004) - Wicksteed Park has been ordered to pay £15,000 as a result of last month's guilty plea by the park's owners to charges of violating health and safety laws. The plea was made in connection with an accident at the park last September when a miniature train derailed, injuring three people. The charges were filed when magistrates discovered that sections of the train track were damaged and that previous operators had ignored warnings about the state of the track from the Health and Safety Executive.


    Another inflatable ride collapses; 8 children injured

    (Sunday, June 27, 2004) - In South Brunswick, New Jersey, eight children were injured in a 20-foot fall from an inflatable ride after the ride collapsed. The children were taken to hospitals for treatment of their injuries, most of which were minor.

    A preliminary investigation by the South Brunswick Fire Safety Bureau found that the operators of the ride -- AA Mabrouk Entertainment of Oakhurst, New Jersey -- did not obtain a permit to operate the ride from the state Division of Fire Safety; that the operators did not have a license to operate the ride as required by the state Division of Community Affairs; that ride attendants were unaware that the maximum load for the ride was only two children; that the ride was not properly anchored to the ground; that the ride was improperly powered by extension cords; and that the ride was operated by persons with insufficient guidance about safety issues.

    New Jersey's Department of Community Affairs, local police and fire safety officials are investigating.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    Four injured at Del Mar Fair

    (Saturday, June 19, 2004) - At the Del Mar Fair in Del Mar, California, four people were injured while riding a log flume ride called the
    Hydro Slide when a guide wheel failed on one of the boats. None of the riders suffered serious injuries, however two of them were treated at a hospital and released.

    The ride is operated by Ray Cammack Shows of Laveen, Arizona.


    Ride injuries claim life of Six Flags mechanic

    (Wednesday, June 15, 2004) - A 52-year-old ride mechanic died from head injuries he sustained on May 29 while working on the Ragin' Cajun roller coaster at Six Flags Great America theme park in Gurnee, Illinois. He performed maintenance on the ride and was then struck by the one of the roller coaster cars as he was exiting the ride area.

    The ride opened this spring as one of the park's newest attractions.


    Two injured at Virginia carnival

    (Saturday, June 12, 2004) - At a festival in Fairfax, Virginia, two people suffered neck and back injuries on a carnival ride when the car in which they were riding rolled backwards and stopped suddenly. The accident happened on a dark ride called Ghost.


    Amusements of Buffalo owner pleads guilty in bumper car death case

    (Friday, June 11, 2004) - Gene Chaffee, the 48-year-old owner of Amusements of Buffalo, has pleaded guilty to attempted involuntary manslaughter in the case brought against him by the state of Ohio in connection with last year's death of an 8-year-old boy who was shocked while standing in line to ride a bumper car ride at the Lake County Fair. Initially, Chaffee had been charged with involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide -- charges to which he pleaded not guilty in January.

    Friday's plea to the lesser charge of attempted involuntary manslaughter comes three days after a jury convicted a fair worker for failing to properly ground the ride. Nick Rock, an electrician who worked for the Lake County Fair, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide.

    Both Rock and Chaffee will be sentenced next month.

    Ohio state inspectors Theodore Brubaker and Kalin Turner are also facing charges of reckless homicide, involuntary manslaughter, and dereliction of duty in connection with the boy's death. Their case is expected to go to trial within months.

    The case marks the first time in Ohio that an amusement ride fatality led to criminal charges.

    The Lake County Fair Board has hired Amusements of America as its new operator for this year's fair (IN THE NEWS: Amusements of America operator to plead guilty to obstruction -- JUNE 3, 2004).

    RELATED STORIES:

  • Boy, 8, severely shocked on bumper car ride at Ohio fair (8/13/03)
  • Boy, 8, dies from bumper car ride injury (9/4/03)
  • Three face criminal charges in Ohio bumper car death (1/17/04)
  • Carnival owner charged with manslaughter, reckless homicide (1/24/04)
  • Fair worker guilty in bumper car death case (6/9/04)


    CPSC, Wisdom Industries announce revised safety inspection program for Gravitrons

    (Wednesday June 9, 2004) - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Wisdom Industries Ltd., of Sterling, Colorado, are announcing a revised safety inspection program for all types of Gravitron amusement rides. The Gravitron amusement ride is a whirling cylinder which uses centrifugal force to hold riders to their seats as the seats rise, giving the illusion that the floor is dropping out. The ride is also called the Starship, Old Blue, and Trip to Mars. There are approximately 190 such rides in the U.S. and Canada.

    On April 2, 2004, at the Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition in Florida, a wall panel of the Gravitron ride gave way, ejecting three riders. Seven people were injured, including two bystanders who were hit by debris. Injuries included broken bones, concussions, and bruises. A 16-year-old girl ejected from the ride was critically injured.

    CPSC's investigation of this incident and its work with the ride manufacturer, Wisdom Industries Ltd., resulted in a revised safety inspection program to prevent future incidents. In brief, some of the elements of the inspection program include:

  • Inspect welds and steel components for cracks or breaks.
  • Inspect platform hinges for cracks or wear.
  • Inspect platform hinge bolts for wear.
  • Check tire air pressure.
  • Measure wing sag to make sure it is level with main table.
  • Inspect the underwing alignment bolts for bending and wear.
  • Inspect condition of fiberglass at lower end of the panel for wear.

    These new safety guidelines have been sent to all owners of Gravitron rides, state inspectors and amusement ride insurers to help improve maintenance of the rides.

    CPSC and Wisdom Industries announced a modification program to improve the safety of the Gravitron rides in 1992. That program included the installation of corner pin reinforcement plates, which were in place on the ride involved in the recent incident. The revised safety inspection program should be performed in addition to the previous modification program.

    RELATED STORIES:

  • 1992 CPSC GRAVITRON SAFETY ALERT
  • Gravitron malfunctions at Virginia carnival (6/1/02)
  • Gravitron malfunctions at Texas fair (3/7/04)
  • Gravitron accident injures seven at Florida fair (4/3/04)
  • Gravitron cited ten times since 2002 (4/6/04)


    Fair worker guilty in bumper car death case

    (Tuesday, June 9, 2004) - Nick Rock, the 80-year-old electrician who improperly wired a bumper car ride last year causing the death of a child, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide by a Lake County, Ohio jury. Rock had worked for the Lake County Fair -- the site of the accident -- for 40 years.

    The victim, an 8-year-old boy, was severely shocked on August 13, 2003 while he was waiting in line with his father to ride the Scooter -- the bumper car ride owned and operated by Amusements of Buffalo. He died three weeks later as a result of his injuries. Other people also claimed to have been shocked while they were on the ride.

    Prosecutors argued that Rock failed to connect a green grounding wire that several electrical experts said would have prevented the shocks. Rock testified that he believed that the ride was grounded elsewhere and that no one told him to connect the grounding wire.

    Rock is scheduled to be sentenced in August. He faces up to five years in prison.

    Assistant County Prosecutor Karen Kowall told reporters, "This case should serve as a wake-up call to amusement park owners that they have a greater responsibility than selling tickets and setting up rides."

    "Hopefully it will have a ripple effect in improving safety standards."

    The case marks the first time in Ohio that an amusement ride fatality led to criminal charges.

    Ohio state inspectors Theodore Brubaker and Kalin Turner and ride owner Eugene Chaffee are also facing charges of reckless homicide and involuntary manslaughter. The inspectors are also charged with dereliction of duty.

    RELATED STORIES:

  • Boy, 8, severely shocked on bumper car ride at Ohio fair (8/13/03)
  • Boy, 8, dies from bumper car ride injury (9/4/03)
  • Three face criminal charges in Ohio bumper car death (1/17/04)
  • Carnival owner charged with manslaughter, reckless homicide (1/24/04)


    Fair ride investigation under way

    - BBC News, June 7, 2004

    Paratrooper collapses at London fair; 13 injured

    (Sunday, June 6, 2004) - Thirteen people were injured at a fair in London when a Paratrooper ride
    collapsed. Witnesses told reporters that they saw black smoke coming from the ride, then watched as the ride's central support broke in two, causing the entire structure to crash to the ground. There were approximately 20 people on the ride when it collapsed, however most of the injured were spectators who were standing on the ground near the ride. Some were knocked unconscious and at least one person became trapped underneath the ride frame. The injured were taken to hospitals where they were treated for non-life-threatening injuries ranging from cuts and bruises to arm, leg and head injuries.

    The scene was described as "mass panic." One witness told London's Sun Newspaper: "The ride collapsed like a deck of cards. Kids were flung into the air from the carriages and the air was filled with screams."

    The newspaper ran pictures of bloodied riders being treated by paramedics.

    The ride is owned by John Manning & Son Fun Fair Amusements.

    The Health and Safety Executive has begun an investigation.

    RELATED STORIES:

  • One dead, two injured after car flies off Super Trooper ride at fair (5/27/00)
  • Ride inspector guilty of manslaughter in Super Trooper death case (11/26/02)
  • Woman injured in fall from ride at Williams Grove Park in Pennsylvania (6/29/03)


    Matterhorn derails at carnival

    (Friday, June 4, 2004) - At a carnival in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, several riders were injured when a whirling ride called the Matterhorn derailed. Two people were taken to a hospital, however no one suffered any life-threatening injuries.

    The accident is under investigation.


    Playland to modify Mind Scrambler

    (Thursday, June 3, 2004) - The New York Department of Labor has completed its investigation into a May 22 accident on the Mind Scrambler at Playland Park and has concluded that the 7-year-old girl who was thrown from the ride eluded her safety bar and was kneeling and moving around in her seat as the ride began, causing her to be thrown from the ride.

    The Mind Scrambler will undergo safety modifications before it reopens, including the addition of seat belts to each of its cars. The park will also assign an additional ride attendant to operate and monitor the ride from a second station within the ride area. In addition, changes will be made to the lighting in the dome-like enclosure in which the ride operates, giving ride attendants a better view of the ride area and the ability to see potential hazards posed by riders' behaviors.

    RELATED STORIES:

  • Girl, 7, killed in fall from Scrambler at Playland (5/22/04)
  • Police: girl turned to wave to friends before fatal fall from ride (5/24/04)

    OPINION:

  • Single point failure: The whim of a young child
    "Each time a young child is killed or maimed by a standard-compliant thrill ride, the industry whips up its personal responsibility rhetoric to shift the focus away from the ride's inadequate restraint design." - Kathy Fackler, Saferparks, May 28, 2004


    Intamin's Superman The Escape and Xcelerator roller coasters closed in California

    (Tuesday, June 1, 2004) - Two popular roller coasters in California are shut down after state officials asked park operators to close them and modify their rider restraint systems. Knott's Berry Farm has agreed to close its Xcelerator roller coaster, and Six Flags Magic Mountain has agreed to close its Superman: The Escape roller coaster. The action comes in the wake of recent investigations into fatalities involving rides manufactured by Swiss designer Intamin. Both Xcelerator and Superman: The Escape are Intamin-made rides and are equipped with a similar restraint system to those that have been the focus of the separate investigations.

    Intamin's T-shaped safety restraint bar -- used on both California rides -- was recently banned by the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety after an investigation into a fatality involving Intamin's Superman Ride of Steel roller coaster at Six Flags New England theme park in Agawam, Massachusetts. In addition, a similar restraint device was deemed "clearly inadequate" by California safety officials in 2001 after their own investigation into a fatality involving Knott's Berry Farm's "Perilous Plunge," an Intamin-made water chute ride. Another Intamin ride is the subject of an ongoing investigation in Wales after a 16-year-old girl suffered a fatal fall from another chute ride called Hydro in April.

    A spokesman for the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health says that the parks were asked to keep the rides closed until safety modifications can be made. The action marks the first time that California officials have asked parks to close a ride in response to out-of-state incidents, and the first time the state has ordered changes on rides which have not been involved in accidents.

    Officials at Knott's and Magic Mountain say that they will follow the state's recommendations. They say they are unsure as to how long the process will take.

    Intamin's Superman Ride of Steel roller coasters at Six Flags New England, Six Flags America in Largo, Maryland, and Six Flags Darien Lake in New York reopened last weekend after the parks modified those rides' safety restraint systems in accordance with the findings of the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety. Those modifications took about one month to complete.

    RELATED STORIES:
  • Man killed in fall from Superman Ride of Steel at Six Flags New England (5/1/04)
  • Witnesses: victim's restraints not checked; lap bar was up (5/6/04)
  • Investigators: victim was not secured; workers should have turned him away (5/7/04)
  • Six Flags, Intamin to modify Superman Ride of Steel restraint system (5/7/04)
  • Superman Ride of Steel ready to reopen with new safety restrains (5/28/04)

    CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE RELATED STORIES


    Worker climbs across roller coaster track, struck by train

    (Tuesday, June 1, 2004) - At Flamingoland, a theme park in North Yorkshire, United Kingdom, a 32-year-old operator of a roller coaster was seriously injured when he was struck by a roller coaster train. The accident happened on a steel looping roller coaster called Magnum Force. The man was hospitalized in critical condition. Witnesses say the man was hit head on by the train, which can reach a top speed of 53 miles per hour.

    Investigators say that the area in which the man was struck is a restricted area open only to maintenance workers when the ride is closed, and that the man had jumped over a safety barrier and crossed the track in violation of the park's safety policy. It is believed that the man may have been rushing to a bathroom.

    Health and Safety Executive inspectors are investigating.


    Riders stranded on roller coaster in Hawaii

    (Monday, May 31, 2004) - A roller coaster ride at the Hawaii State Fair came to an abrupt stop when ride operators shut the ride down in the middle of its run. Several riders were left stranded in their car at the top of the ride. A local fire department was called out to help unload the passengers, but riders were able to evacuate their car with the help of ride workers.

    Ride operators say they shut the ride down after hearing a strange noise.


    Superman Ride of Steel ready to reopen with new safety restrains

    (Friday, May 28, 2004) - Superman Ride of Steel is ready to reopen at Six Flags New England after the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety inspected and approved the ride's newly designed safety restraints. The roller coaster was shut down on May 1 after a man fell from the ride and died. An investigation into his death concluded that he should not have been allowed on the ride because the large size of his body prevented the ride's safety restraints to secure him properly. The new restraint design is described by park officials as a "go or no go" system, meaning that ride attendants will not be required to make a judgment call when it comes to large riders being able to ride.

    The new system includes several modifications. All of the ride's seat belts, which had been black, are now orange, and they are all of the same size. Previously, seat belts in the front row of each car had an extra 11 inches to adjust compared to the seats in the second row due to the fact that they were secured at different locations. In addition, the lap bar, which attaches to the floor of each car, includes small horizontal bars which rest against riders' shins for extra security, and vertical bars which run along the outer sides of riders' legs.

    Six Flags also says that a "size check" gauge will require the lap bar to be closed to a minimum closure point. If the bar can't reach that point because of a rider's size, then the passenger won't be allowed on the ride.

    The park expects that many large people who were able to ride the roller coaster with its old restraint design may now be unable to ride, but says that safety is the top priority.

    Six Flags is training its employees in the proper operation of the new restraint system and expects that the ride will reopen this weekend. The same modifications have been made to the Superman Ride of Steel roller coasters at Six Flags parks in New York and Maryland. Those roller coasters are also expected to open this weekend.

    Six Flags would not comment on the cost of the new modifications.

    RELATED STORIES:

  • Man killed in fall from Superman Ride of Steel at Six Flags New England (5/1/04)
  • Witnesses: victim's restraints not checked; lap bar was up (5/6/04)
  • Investigators: victim was not secured; workers should have turned him away (5/7/04)
  • Six Flags, Intamin to modify Superman Ride of Steel restraint system (5/7/04)


    Police: girl turned to wave to friends before fatal fall from ride

    (Monday, May 24, 2004) - Police in Westchester County, New York say that the 7-year-old girl who was killed at Playland turned her body around to wave to some friends and may have been kneeling on her seat when she fell from the Mind Scrambler ride. Investigators say that there is no evidence to indicate that there was a mechanical malfunction or that park safety procedures were not followed by the ride operator. The girl, who met the ride's 48-inch height requirement, was riding alone. She had apparently ridden the Mind Scrambler several times earlier on Saturday.

    RELATED STORIES:

  • Girl, 9, injured in fall from Sizzler ride at New York carnival (7/26/02)
  • Girl, 6, thrown from Sizzler, injured (1/10/04)
  • Girl, 7, killed in fall from Scrambler at Playland (5/22/04)


    Girl, 7, killed in fall from Scrambler at Playland

    (Saturday, May 22, 2004) - At Playland amusement park in Rye, New York, a 7-year-old girl suffered massive head injuries when she fell from the park's Mind Scramber ride. She was rushed to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.

    The accident is under investigation.

    The Mind Scrambler is also known as the Scrambler.

    RELATED STORIES:

  • Girl, 9, injured in fall from Sizzler ride at New York carnival (7/26/02)
  • Girl, 6, thrown from Sizzler, injured (1/10/04)


    Three Coleman Brothers rides fail inspection

    (Wednesday, May 19, 2004) - In Naugatuck, Connecticut, the state fire marshal's office shut down three rides at a Coleman Brothers carnival. Bright orange signs reading "DANGER" were posted on three of the companys' rides: the Pumpkin Patch, the Gravitron and the Thunderbolt. Inspectors say the rides are defective.

    Last weekend, there were two separate incidents with Coleman Brothers rides at a carnival in Manchester, Connecticut. On Friday, a wheel fell off a ride called the Ring of Fire, and on Saturday, police arrested a ride operator for drunkenness after a 3-year-old boy fell from the company's Yo-Yo ride. Investigators say the child unlatched a safety bar, but that the ride operator -- who faces charges of reckless endangerment -- should not have let the child board the ride. In addition, an inspection of the Yo-Yo revealed that several seats were cracked or fatigued. The company was ordered to replace all of the ride's seats.

    RELATED STORIES:

  • Family sues carnival operator (8/15/01)
  • Ride worker says training, standards lax (8/16/01)
  • Carnival ride operator arrested, charged with working while intoxicated (9/25/02)
  • Carnival worker charged with drunkenness, possession of marijuana (7/25/03)
  • Carnival worker arrested, charged with drunkenness after child falls from ride (5/15/04)


    Carnival worker arrested, charged with drunkenness after child falls from ride

    (Saturday, May 15, 2004) - At a carnival in Manchester, Connecticut, a three-year old boy fell from his seat on a Yo-Yo ride. The boy apparently became afraid and wanted to escape. He unlatched his seat belt, left the seat and then clung to the seat briefly before falling to the pavement. He was taken to a hospital where he was treated for minor injuries and released.

    Police say that ride's 34-year-old operator was drunk and refused to cooperate with investigating officers. Police are charging him with reckless endangerment in the first and second degrees, risk of injury to a minor and interfering with police. He is being held on a $50,000 bond.

    Connecticut's WFSB News reports that the man -- an employee of Coleman Brothers Shows of Middletown -- was a convicted felon who had 12 prior arrests dating back to 1988.

    The accident was the second at the weekend carnival. On Friday, a wheel fell off a ride called the Ring of Fire. No one was injured.

    The Yo-Yo features swings which rotate about a central column that lifts and tilts. It was ordered closed by state inspectors after they found cracks on the seats. Investigators say that the child's fall was not related to a mechanical problem, but that the three-year-old should not have been allowed on the ride. According to the ride's manufacturer, riders must be at least 42 inches to board the ride. Reports indicate that there were no signs posted at the ride informing riders of height requirements.

    RELATED STORIES:

  • Family sues carnival operator (8/15/01)
  • Ride worker says training, standards lax (8/16/01)
  • Carnival ride operator arrested, charged with working while intoxicated (9/25/02)
  • Carnival worker charged with drunkenness, possession of marijuana (7/25/03)


    Turbo Rocket inflatable collapses; nine hospitalized

    (Friday, May 7, 2004) - At a high school festival in Fortuna, California, an inflatable slide called the Turbo Rocket collapsed, injuring nine students, all of whom were treated at a hospital for relatively minor injuries and released. The Turbo Rocket is an inflatable attraction which features a 20-foot-tall spiral slide which wraps around a 36-foot tall rocket.

    The accident is under investigation.

    The ride was rented from a company called Club Pneuma.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    Six Flags, Intamin to modify Superman Ride of Steel restraint system

    (Friday, May 7, 2004) - Six Flags New England announced today it will make changes to the restraint system on its Superman roller coaster trains to enhance the safety of the ride. The action comes in the wake of an investigation into last week's fatal accident in which a 55-year-old man fell out of the ride and was killed. Investigators concluded that ride attendants failed to ensure that the victim was properly secured by the ride's restraint system, and that there are concerns about the ability of the system itself to secure large passengers.

    "A thorough investigation of this ride has been collectively conducted by park staff, Six Flags safety engineers and safety experts, independent safety engineers, the ride manufacturer as well as the Department of Public Safety and the Agawam Police Department," said the park's general manager, Ron Sevart.

    "We have decided to modify the restraint system on this coaster to address concerns identified by the Department of Public Safety."

    The same modifications will be made to the Superman Ride of Steel roller coasters at two other Six Flags parks: Six Flags America in Largo, Maryland and Six Flags Darien Lake in Buffalo, New York.

    "We believe that the current restraint configuration was the primary factor in Saturday's tragic accident," Sevart said.

    "We are making several modifications to address those concerns including: the length of the ride-manufacturer-supplied seatbelts in the first row of each coach will be shortened to conform with all other seatbelts in the coaster. By shortening these seatbelts, those guests who may be too large to be safely accommodated by the restraint system will not be able to ride.

    We are also continuing to examine other modifications to the primary restraint system to further increase guest safety. We are currently condusting the engineering to modify the lapbar to fit more securely and restrict those individuals who may be too large to be safely accommodated by the existing restraint system. We also are looking into extending the seat bottoms forward to improve rider position and further enhance the effectiveness of the restraints. By extending the seat bottom, we will help ensure riders maintain the proper position for the duration of the ride cycle." Six Flags is also in the process of reviewing all operating procedures for the Superman Ride of Steel roller coaster.

    "We are committed to making all necessary modifications to our Superman coaster to continue our pledge to delivering a safe and fun experience for all of our guests."

    Sevart also assured the victim's family that the thoughts and prayers of Six Flags New England employees are with them.


    Investigators: Superman victim was not secured; park workers should have turned him away

    (Friday, May 7, 2004) - The Massachusetts Department of Public Safety has concluded that the 55-year-old man who fell from the Superman Ride of Steel roller coaster at Six Flags New England on Saturday was not properly secured by the ride's safety restraints. The report blames park workers for failing to ensure that the victim's restraints were locked properly. It also blames Intamin, the ride's designer, Six Flags, and the victim himself, who failed to inform ride attendants that he suffered from a pre-existing medical condition, as mandated by state law.

    The victim rode a scooter to the boarding platform and witnesses say that the ride's attendants assisted him to his seat. Six Flags says that ride attendants are not allowed to assist passengers who are boarding the ride.

    While investigators found "no apparent mechanical defects," it says that Six Flags workers should have denied the victim access to the ride because his large girth prevented his lap bar restraint from fitting firmly against his thighs. The victim was 5-foot-2 and weighed about 230 pounds.

    "Had the ride attendant identified that the 'T' bar lap restraint was not in a position necessary to protect the patron from ejection, the patron would have been removed from the ride,'' the report says.

    The victim's brother claimed that ride attendants turned the victim away when he attempted to board the same roller coaster during a visit to the park last year.

    The report says that the man's left hand was severed before he plunged 31 feet to the ground.

    State officials say that, in the wake of Saturday's accident, the use of T-bars as a primary restraint will now be banned. There are no other rides operating in the state of Massachusetts which are affected. Before the state will certify the ride and allow it to reopen, Six Flags must replace the T-bar restraint with a new device, or acquire a state-approved fix from the manufacturer.

    MASSACHUSETTS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY
    May 1, 2004
    Six Flags New England, Agawam, MA
    Superman Roller Coaster

    ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION

    On May 1, 2004 at approximately 1500 hours, a roller coaster accident occurred at Six Flags New England, 1623 Main Street, Agawam, Massachusetts. Within one hour, park officials contacted the Massachusetts State Police of the incident pursuant to Massachusetts Regulation 520 CMR 5.00. A preliminary investigation was started by Mr. Mark F. Mooney, Assistant Chief of Inspections of the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety on May 1, 2004 at 1845 hours. Mr. Thomas G. Gatzunis, Commissioner of Public Safety, assisted during the investigation... The scene was secured by Agawam Police Department, who also interviewed guests shortly after the incident.

    Upon investigation, it appears that the victim arrived at the Superman coaster ride on a scooter/mobile chair. Several ride attendants were aware of [the victim] and his scooter/mobile chair and made accommodations to allow him to park his scooter where he then walked to the front seat of the coaster. Based on witness testimony, it appears that the victim was guided to his seat by a ride attendant and entered the ride by himself. The ride attendant was "going to sit him in the 2nd or 3rd car," however due to his larger size, the attendant sat him in the front seat because "those cars have a larger seatbelt so he would not have any problems buckling." It was observed, after the accident, that the [victim's] seat belt was still connected and latched. The position of the latching mechanism was pulled between the seat and the side restraint. The ride photo taken by an automatic camera on the coaster 10 to 20 seconds prior to the accident demonstrated that the seat belt was secured around [the victim]... Upon his ejection from the seat, his foot caught the seatbelt and pulled the belt into the final position. [The victim's] sock was also tangled with the seatbelt. One shoe was still in the car at the time of the investigation. This could have been knocked off by the lap restraint or the seat belt upon ejection. The second shoe was found on the ground near the point of ejection.

    According to witness statements, during boarding, a second patron was asked to move from his original seat to the seat in the 1st row next to the victim. This was also "because he was larger and could not fit into his seat belt," "standard procedure." It should be noted that measurements taken by Department of Public Safety Inspectors indicated that the front row of each car seat belts had eleven (11) extra inches to adjust compared to the seats in the second row because they are secured at different locations. Since [the witness] had already attempted to pull the "T" bar lap restraint forward, to move, the operator had to release the restraints from all passengers. Once [the witness] was in his new seat, the park procedure required ride attendants to check all the passengers' seat belts and "T" bar restraints. The ride operator as well as several patrons provided statements as such, however, there were some statements that indicated that the seatbelts were not pulled tight enough or the "T" bar lap restraints did not get pushed against the patrons firm enough... Once the ride attendants did their checks, they signaled to the operator "all clear." The operator then started the ride and the coaster left the station.

    As the ride was underway, the patron behind the victim saw that [the victim] was “getting air” on some of the hills and grabbed his suspenders in an attempt to keep him in his seat. [The patron] indicated that [the victim] was leaning forward in the seat the entire duration of the ride. On approaching the final bunny hills, [the patron] noticed that [the victim] was coming out of his seat high enough to take notice. At the last bunny hill approaching the last turn, [the victim] "came up too much" and he began to fall out of the left side. [Two witnesses] attempted to hold onto [the victim] as the ride came into the last turn, however the forces applied on [the victim’s] body were too great for them to hold on and his body was quickly thrown from the ride. The maximum peak instantaneous negative value in that section of the ride was -0.4 G, and the maximum peak instantaneous positive value in that section of the ride was +2.9 G according to ride accelerometer data.

    As [the victim] came out of his seat, the ride track begins to turn, which caused his body to move out of the car. As the coaster comes down the last bunny hill, the design of the track causes the coaster to pitch into the turn. At the point when [the victim] was exiting the coaster, and the coaster began to bank into the turn, his left hand landed on the left track of the coaster and the rear wheels of the 1st car struck his arm at his wrist, severing his hand. It should be noted that it is not physically possible for a hand to come into contact with the coaster wheels when a person is properly secured in the seat restraints. The severed hand struck a cross members on the coaster track before flying free of the track, landing 25 feet from the point of separation. Once the victim was clear of the coaster, his head and upper torso struck the #6 support column and he then traveled 31 feet before striking the ground and traveling another 38 feet before striking a chain link fence bordering the property. At the time of this report, we do not have conclusive evidence that [the victim] did or did not suffer any loss of consciousness prior to being ejected.

    As the coaster came into the braking area, the ride operator and ride attendants were made aware of the incident and performed an "emergency stop" of the coaster.

    Some patrons jumped a chain link security fence in an attempt to assist the victim. Park emergency response officials arrived on the scene and began to provide medical assistance until an ambulance arrived... Due to the possibility of a pre-existing health condition that could have a significant influence as a contributing factor, the Department officials have requested the assistance from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in order to seek an autopsy of the victim. Complete results of the autopsy were not available at the time of this report...

    The hydraulic system of the "T" bar restraint was checked for proper function. The system appeared clean and free of leakage. The seatbelt system was also checked and mechanically functioned properly. Ride operational and maintenance logs were reviewed as well as the status of the Allen Bradley PLC, however, a printout of the PLC alarm log was not available at the time of the investigation. The system does not have a local printer set up, but has been requested.

    Based on this preliminary investigation, the Department has identified the following contributring factors:

    1. Girth of the victim. The girth of the victim's lower torso was incompatible with the "T" bar restraint. Based on photographic evidence, it appears that the victim's body configuration prevented the "T" bar restraint from being in a position that would adequately protect the patron from being ejected.

    2. Pre-existing medical condition. Massachusetts regulations 520 CMR 5.03(6)(e) requires patrons to notify the ride operator of any pre-existing health conditions that may negatively affect the health and safety of the patron if they were to ride an amusement device.

    3. Varied seat belt sizes. The different sizes of seat belts enable people of unique size to enter the ride. This creates an opportunity for patrons, who may have a body size and type that is incompatible with the "T" bar restraint to ride the coaster, unaware of the potential hazard.

    4. Failure of the ride attendant. In order for the "T" bar restraint to work properly, it is necessary that the bar be positioned firm against the patron's upper thighs. In the case where individuals with large torso girth, the lower abdomen can interfere with the proper position of the "T" bar restraint. There was a failure of the ride attendant to properly identify that the restraints were inadequately supplied. Had the ride attendant identified that the "T" bar restraint was not in a position necessary to protect the patron from ejection, the patron would have been removed from the ride.

    As stated earlier, due to the nature of the accident and [other factors] that could have a significant influence as a contributing factors, the Department officials requested the assistance from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in order to seek an autopsy of the victim. Complete results of autopsy were not available at the time of this report.

    Following the investigation, the Department officials held a post-investigatory meeting with park officials to review what were identified as contributing factors and outline the steps the park had to take before being allowed to re-open the ride to the public.

    Pursuant to Massachusetts General Law chapter 140 section 205A, the ride shall remain closed until the operators and/or manufacturer implement a corrective action plan which is approved by Commissioner Gatzunis.


    Witnesses: victim's restraints not checked; lap bar was up

    (Thursday, May 6, 2004) - At least two witnesses to Saturday's fatal accident at Six Flags New England are telling reporters and investigators that Superman Ride of Steel attendants did not check to see whether the victim's lap bar and selt belt were properly secured. One witness, a 39-year-old woman who was seated directly behind the victim during the fatal ride, told the Hartford Courant that ride attendants did not physically check to see that the victim was safely secured in his seat. She added that, while she did see the victim's seat belt around him during the ride, she noticed that his lap bar restraint was at least halfway up, in an "in-between position." She also claims that a Six Flags official called her and asked her to change her statement.

    Another witness told Connecticut's Vernon Enquirer that ride attendants made a last-minute change to his seating position and that of his daughter. Initially, the witness was seated directly behind the victim, in the second row of seats. However, attendants told him to move to another row of seats two cars behind him to make room for other passengers. Each of the ride's eight cars holds two rows of two seats; apparently, the rear row of seats allows more room for larger passengers. The witness moved back to a new row along with his daughter, who sat on the victim's side of the train. The witness says that he realized that his daughter's restraints were not checked physically. The witness tells the Hartford Courant: "One of the attendants casually walked by on the right side where I sat. They just kind of walked by real quick, but no one checked [the victim's] side, the left side where my daughter was sitting."

    The same witness also told the Vernon Enquirer that, upon exiting the ride, he passed by the monitors which show pictures which are taken of riders at about mid-ride. When he looked up, he saw the first monitor which showed the victim in the front seat and noticed that his lap bar was "clearly up."

    The Massachusetts Department of Public Safety has completed its official investigation into the accident and is expected to release its findings soon.


    Man killed in fall from Intamin's Superman Ride of Steel roller coaster at Six Flags New England

    (Saturday, May 1, 2004) - A 55-year-old man suffered fatal injuries when he fell from the Superman Ride of Steel roller coaster at Six Flags New England theme park in Agawam, Massachusetts. The man, a Six Flags season pass holder for several years who often visited the park, fell from the train shortly before the final curve of the ride which leads to the brakes. According to Agawam Police, the man was seated in the left front seat of the train's lead car next to another passenger when he was ejected. His body spun through the air and struck a fence before it came to rest on the ground.

    One man claims that he witnessed the accident as he was waiting in line for the back seat, close to where the incoming train would enter the station. He says that he and three other individuals standing in line ran down to the area behind the braked track section where the man's body came to rest on its side against a chainlink fence. The witness says that he then noticed that the victim's left hand had been ripped off from the mid-forearm down, and it was lying 25-30 yards away. The individuals who ran to the victim -- at least three of whom were CPR certified -- checked for a pulse, but found none. They said that they also were able to see that the victim sustained a skull fracture.

    According to another witness, the victim's body began to eject from his seat as the train passed over the second-to-last incline before the curve which precedes the brakes.

    The ride was immediately shut down. It passed a state inspection last month and two park inspections on Saturday morning. Agawam Police, the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety and Six Flags are investigating.

    The victim's mother told the Hartford Courant that her son suffered from cerebral palsy, and that she believes he was "so sickly and handicapped" that she couldn't believe he was allowed to board the ride. According to Six Flags officials, the federal Americans With Disabilities Act prohibits parks from preventing disabled people from boarding an amusement ride as long as they are able to board without assistance from park personnel. Parks can deny patrons access to a ride if they do not meet height or weight requirements established by the manufacturer. In this case, the victim's height of 5 feet 3 inches and weight of 225 pounds were within the ride's design specifications and the victim boarded the ride on his own.

    In an interview with the Boston Herald, the victim's brother claimed that ride attendants turned the victim away when he attempted to board the same roller coaster during a visit to the park last year.

    After interviewing witnesses, Agawam Police say that there are no reports indicating that the victim tried to stand up or remove himself from the ride's safety restraints.

    Superman Ride of Steel was manufactured by Intamin AG of Switzerland. It is the top-rated roller coaster in the world.

    In August 2001, twenty-two people were injured on the same ride when the two roller coaster trains collided. A faulty air supply line in the ride's braking system was blamed for that accident.

    In May, 1999, a rider was ejected from Intamin's Superman Ride of Steel roller coaster at Six Flags Darien Lake theme park in New York. The victim, a 37-year-old man, was thrown from the ride near its end. He suffered only minor injuries. Investigators determined that the passenger restraint system was working properly, but that the man, who was 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighed about 400 pounds, was too big for the ride. The man later won a $4 million lawsuit against the park. The jury found that the park was negligent in its failure to properly train employees to assess a rider's potential risk for ejection.

    In the wake of the Darien Lake accident, seatbelts were added to the lap bar restraint systems on all similar Intamin roller coasters.

    Sunday's accident marks the fifth time since 1999 that a rider has fallen from an Intamin-made ride.

    In August, 1999, a 12-year-old boy was killed when he fell from Intamin's Drop Zone Stunt Tower freefall ride at Paramount's Great America theme park in Santa Clara, California. An investigation into his death yielded no explanation as to why he fell from the ride.

    In September, 2001, a 40-year-old woman died after falling out of Intamin's Perilous Plunge chute ride at Knott's Berry Farm in California, billed as the tallest and steepest water ride in the world. The woman fell more than 100 feet to her death, even though park officials say that her seat belt and lap bar "were in their correct and locked position" when her boat returned to the dock. Intamin says that the victim was too large for the ride's safety restraints and that the park's ride attendants should not have allowed her to ride. California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health investigated the accident and concluded that the ride's safety restraint system was flawed, and called upon the park to make modifications so that riders of all body sizes would be adequately secured.

    And two weeks ago, a 16-year-old girl died after falling out of Hydro, another of Intamin's river plunge rides operating at Oakwood theme park in Pembrokeshire, Wales. That accident is still under investigation and the ride remains closed.

    There are three Superman Ride of Steel roller coasters operating throughout the Six Flags chain. In addition to the Agawam and Darien Lake rides, a third operates at Six Flags America in Largo, Maryland. All three have been shut down and will remain closed until the investigation is complete.

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    SUPERMAN RIDE OF STEEL SIX FLAGS NEW ENGLAND:

  • Roller coaster accident injures 22 at Six Flags New England (8/6/01)
  • Braking system faulted in Superman Ride of Steel accident (8/18/01)
    SUPERMAN RIDE OF STEEL SIX FLAGS DARIEN LAKE:
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    Carnival ride malfunctions, strands riders at California fair

    (Saturday, May 1, 2004) - At the Conejo Valley Days Fair in Thousand Oaks, California, six people were sent to a hospital after a ride called the Chicago Loop malfunctioned with 13 passengers aboard. The ride features a train of cars which circles a 50-foot tall vertical loop forwards and backwards throughout 360 degrees. It stopped suddenly, leaving most riders locked in their seats for nearly an hour. Carnival workers were able to unload three riders whose cars stopped close enough to the loading area. Firefighters used ladder trucks to unload the other passengers.

    Nine people were treated at the scene for minor injuries including cuts, bruises and muscle strain. One rider sustained a cut to her forehead. In addition, six of those treated were also taken to area hospitals and were released.

    The 27-year-old ride, more commonly known as Super Loops, was manufactured by Larson International of Texas. It is owned and operated by American Amusements, also known as Shamrock Shows. It passed a state inspection on April 8 and has no history of any major accidents.


    New bill would prohibit minors from operating amusement rides

    (Friday, April 23, 2004) - Massachusetts Representative Ed Markey has introduced a new bill to the U.S. House of Representatives which would set the minimum age of 18 for amusement ride operators. The Amusement Park Ride Child Labor Act of 2004 -- bill HR 4190 -- would require the Department of Labor to declare the operation of "power-driven" amusement rides "hazardous" under the Fair Labor Standards Act. As a result, minors would no longer be allowed to operate amusement rides at the nation's carnivals and amusement parks.

    "For the sake of both the young employees and the park patrons, who are disproportionately children themselves, the Department of Labor should recognize that operating roller coasters and thrill rides requires split-second judgments that, if mishandled, can injure both the operator and dozens of riders. Let minors take the non-hazardous jobs in our parks -- let adults run the rides," said Markey.

    Markey cited the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which reports that 114 employees died while attending to amusement and recreation facilities during the 10-year period 1992-2002, and 7 of those fatalities involved children under the age of 18. During 2001, nonfatal injuries suffered by amusement ride attendants totaled 2,475, and nearly one out of every five injuries was suffered by a child employee.

    "The fact is that in the past 15 years, the speed and complexity of amusement park rides has risen dramatically. All of the nation's 15 fastest coasters have been built in the last 10 years. But clearly, the margin for error is much narrower for the operator of a ride traveling at 100 mph than on a ride traveling 50 mph. People make mistakes, and the riders often act like children, because they often are children. This situation is dangerously compounded by allowing young teenagers to be put in charge of running these high-tech, high-speed machines," said Markey.

    The bill was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

    Could minors be operating amusement rides at carnivals and amusement parks in your state?

    Kathy Fackler of Saferparks has put together this report.


    Carnival worker killed in accident

    (Thursday, April 22, 2004) - At a carnival in Taylor, Michigan, a 44-year-old carnival worker was killed when a co-worker mistakenly started a ride he was working on. The accident happened on a children's ride called the Crazy Submarine. Witnesses say it appeared that the victim was performing maintenance on top of the ride when another employee started it. Apparently, the worker did not know the victim was working.

    A 5-year-old boy was the sole passenger on the ride. He was not injured.

    The men worked for Wade Shows of Auburn Hills, Michigan.

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating.

    Last year, another Wade Shows employee was seriously injured when the Spider ride he was operating struck him in the head. He apparently walked into the path of the ride's whirling arms to throw his jacket toward a canopy at the center of the ride. When he backed away to return to his position, one of the ride's cars struck him, splitting his head open and knocking him unconscious. Wade Shows general manager Brad Cox called it "just a freakish accident."

    RELATED STORY:

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    Girl, 13, injured in fall from Ferris wheel

    (Friday, April 17, 2004) - At Joyland amusement park in Wichita, Kansas, a 13-year-old girl was seriously injured in a 25-foot fall from a Ferris wheel. The girl was riding with two of her friends. Witnesses say that the three were rocking their seat. The victim fell out, struck another seat, and fell to the ground. She sustained injuries to her right arm and leg, head and face. She has been hospitalized in fair condition.

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  • Boy injured in fall from Ferris wheel (5/20/02)
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  • California park loses $5.4 million in Ferris wheel judgment (12/28/02)
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    Girl, 16, dead after 100-foot fall from Intamin's Hydro river plunge ride

    (Thursday, April 15, 2004) - At Oakwood theme park in Pembrokeshire, Wales, a 16-year-old girl suffered fatal injuries after falling 100 feet from the top of a river plunge ride called
    Hydro. Police reports indicate that the girl landed in the water pool underneath the ride's track. She was rushed via helicopter to a hospital, where she died. A ten-year-old boy who was sitting in front of the victim was also injured in the accident. It is believed that the victim's shoe struck him in the head as she fell out of the ride. He was treated for a minor head injury and released.

    Police are seeking out witnesses and have joined the Health and Safety Executive in an investigation.

    The ride has been shut down and the park's website states, "Hydro will be closed until further notice."

    Hydro, one of the world's tallest and steepest water rides, is described by its manufacturer as a "water free-fall attraction." Oakwood calls it "Europe's fastest and wettest" water coaster. It consists of 24-passenger boats which are lifted to the top of a 121-foot-tall chute and then plunge almost vertical at an 85-degree angle into a one million-gallon pool of water, producing a 45-foot tall splash wave -- one of the biggest of any of the world's water rides. Hydro opened in June 2002.

    The ride is manufactured by Intamin AG of Switzerland -- the same manufacturer of a nearly identical river plunge ride operating at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California from which a 40-year-old woman fell to her death in September 2001. Boats on the California ride -- called Perilous Plunge -- climb to the top of a 115-foot tall chute and then plunge at a 75-degree angle at about 50 miles per hour.

    Intamin says that the victim in the California accident was too large for the ride's safety restraints and that the park's ride attendants should not have allowed her to ride. California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health investigated the Perilous Plunge accident, and concluded that the ride's safety restraint system was flawed.

    "While the possibility cannot be excluded that more optimal placement or adjustment of the seat belt and/or lap bar could have been achieved so as to have prevented the accident or mitigated its outcome, the design of the restraint system was clearly not adequate to protect against the type of event that resulted in the deceased's separation from her seat."

    OSHA called for the ride's restraint system to be modified so that riders of all body sizes would be adequately secured. Knott's Berry Farm worked with Intamin to implement OSHA's recommendations.

    Hydro's safety restraint system did not include the California-mandated safety modifications.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    OSHA report faults 2 workers in latest Disneyland coaster crash

    (Tuesday, April 13, 2004) - The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health released the following report upon the conclusion of its investigation into a crash involving two roller coaster trains on Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad:

    The Division [of Occupational Safety and Health] performed an inspection on the attraction known as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, located at Disneyland. This inspection was conducted on 4/5/04 and 4/6/04.

    This inspection resulted from a complaint issued to the Division. During the Division inspection it was found that on Saturday, April 3, 2004 at approximately 2040 hours the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad attraction went down for a problem with the station gates. The attraction was evacuated and cleared with no guests on the attraction. At this time the problem with the station gates was resolved, and operations began to perform its reset procedure (a procedure that does not involve guests at anytime). During this reset procedure the Tower [employee] gave an instruction to start Lift C with train #3 on the lift. As the train went over Lift C, it collided with train #5 which was occupying Brake Zone 4.

    The Division has concluded that the Tower [employee] did not follow the proper procedure for resetting the attraction after an E-Stop evacuation. The Tower [employee] did not verify the position of train #5 that was occupying Brake Zone #4 prior to giving the clear to start Lift C with train #3 occupying the lift. Also the Division has found that the Lead [employee] did not fully perform her duties as the Lead and overseeing the resetting procedures.

    The Division has also concluded that this incident was not a reportable accident, due to [the fact that] no guests were involved, and the owner/operator has performed its own internal investigation and prior to operating the attraction on Sunday, April 4, 2004, all [employees] were retrained.

    At the conclusion of the Division inspection the following requirement was given to the owner/operator:

    R1 - The owner/operator shall retrain the Tower [employee] and the Lead [employee]. These two individuals did not follow the proper procedures (a procedure that does not involve guests) to reset the attraction from and E-Stop and evacuation, at the time of the incident on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad attraction on Saturday, April 3, 2004 at approximately 2040 hours. This resulted in the two trains colliding. These two [employees] shall not operate the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad attraction until this requirement has been complied with.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    Six Flags Magic Mountain employee struck by roller coaster, killed

    (Friday, April 8, 2004) - At Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park in Valencia, California, a 21-year-old park employee was struck by a roller coaster train after she entered a restricted area and walked onto the ride's track. The accident happened on Scream, a steel floor-less roller coaster which reaches a top speed of 65 miles per hour. There were no passengers aboard the ride when the victim was struck.

    A spokesman for Six Flags says that the woman was performing a routine safety inspection when she was struck during a test run. Investigators believe that she walked across the ride's track instead of using an exit gate. She was rushed to a local hospital where she died.

    The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health found no problems with the ride and cleared it to reopen.


    Gravitron rides banned in Florida

    (Wednesday, April 7, 2004) - Gravitron rides similar to the one which broke apart at a fair last week have been banned from operation across the state of Florida. State officials say that the ban is a standard response to any major amusement ride accident. The ban includes all Gravitron rides including those operating under the names of Starship 2000, Starship 3000 and Starship Enterprise -- all of which are manufactured by the same company -- and will remain in effect until the investigation into the accident is completed.

    The accident happened Friday night at the Miami-Dade County Fair in Miami. A panel broke off the ride, ejecting three passengers at full speed. Four others were also injured. Three of the victims remain hospitalized, including one girl who remains in critical condition and another who remains in an intensive care unit. The parents of one of the victims is filing a negligence suit today against fair operator Conklin Shows, the owner of the ride, and the Miami-Dade Fair and Exposition.

    Meanwhile, local police, fair inspectors and federal and state officials continue their investigation into the cause of the accident. In addition, two engineering professors from a local university and a private engineering firm are also joining the investigation.

    "We need to find out what exactly went wrong and where the responsibility lies," said a spokesman for Florida's Agriculture Department, the agency responsible for the inspections and regulation of amusement rides in Florida.

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  • Gravitron cited ten times since 2002 (4/6/04)


    Gravitron cited ten times since 2002

    (Monday, April 6, 2004) - The Gravitron amusement ride which broke apart Friday at the Miami Dade County Fair in Miami, Florida had received ten citations since 2002 -- five of which involved a nine-inch bolt of the type which sheared off the ride on Friday and is suspected of causing the accident. Several passengers were tossed out of the ride when a panel holding them in broke off. One teenage girl remains in critical condition from her injuries. Six other people were treated for minor injuries.

    According to the Miami Herald, Florida state records show the ten citations came after eight inspections since 2002.

    The ride passed two separate inspections on March 17, a day before the Miami Dade Fair opened.

    The ride, which operated at the fair under the name Old Blue, has been impounded. The National Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Miami Police Department are investigating.

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  • Gravitron malfunctions at Virginia carnival (6/1/02)
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    Disneyland's Thunder Mountain Railroad crashes -- again; ride operators faulted -- again

    (Saturday, April 4, 2004) - Two roller coaster trains collided in an accident on Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Anaheim. The accident happened as the ride's operators were restarting the ride. There were no passengers in the trains and no one was injured.

    According to state officials, the operators failed to follow operating procedures as they rebooted the ride's computer system. Apparently, they did not clear the coaster track of trains before they initiated the procedure that restarts the ride, leaving one train sitting on the track and sending another through. The ride's anti-collision mechanism failed because the ride's computer system loses the memory of the locations of the trains when it is reset.

    The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) has ordered the park to retrain two of the ride's operators, but says that the collision "would not have happened during the operation of the ride with passengers on it."

    Witnesses in the park reported hearing a "horrifically loud metallic sounding" crash which could be heard throughout Frontierland.

    Last September, one person was killed and 10 others were injured when two trains collided on the same ride. OSHA faulted the park for improper maintenance and poorly trained employees. The ride was shut down, but reopened last month after state officials were satisfied that the park had taken the appropriate measures to correct its problems.

    The ride closed Saturday after the accident, but reopened on Sunday.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE RELATED STORIES


    Gravitron accident injures seven at Florida fair

    (Friday, April 3, 2004) - At the Miami-Dade County Fair in Miami, Florida, a Gravitron amusement ride operating with the name Old Blue, broke open and ejected several passengers. Seven people were injured, three of whom were thrown from the ride through the opening left by the broken panel. One victim, a teenage girl, suffered head and upper body injuries and was hospitalized. Reports indicate that she is unresponsive and in critical condition. The other victims' injuries are said to be non-life-threatening.

    The ride consists of an enclosed cylinder which spins at high speed, causing centrifugal force to hold riders against their seats which rise against the outer panels of the ride as speed increases. Investigators say that the accident happened when an old bolt securing one of the panels sheared, causing the panel to separate from the ride while it was running at full speed.

    It is estimated that 40 to 45 riders were on board the Gravitron when the accident happened.

    The ride passed two separate inspections on March 17, a day before the fair opened, however inspectors are not required to check the ride's bolts. The ride has been impounded as investigators from the state and local police begin an investigation. In the meantime, state officials are calling for all Gravitron rides to be reinspected.

    Mike Rinehart, the chief investigator for the Florida Agriculture Department's bureau of fair ride inspections, says the accident is not the result of a manufacturer's defect or an operator error.

    "It was a one-time thing, like wheels come off cars sometimes."

    Reports indicate, however, that the accident was not a "one-time thing." On August 21, 1991, another Gravitron ride operating at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia, Missouri, experienced an identical malfunction. A panel separated from the ride after a pin broke. Four riders were ejected from the ride as it continued to spin, including a 12-year-old girl whose body slammed into a guardrail. In addition to serious head and shoulder injuries, she suffered permanent hearing loss in her left ear. Ten other children were injured in the accident.

    In the wake of that accident, the Missouri State Fair banned the Gravitron from operation at its fairgrounds. In addition, the National Consumer Product Safety Commission called for changes to strengthen the ride design of the Gravitron.

    "These changes must be made to ensure riders' safety," said CPSC Chairman Jacqueline Jones-Smith.

    It is believed that those modifications had been made to the Gravitron operating in Florida.

    READ THE 1992 CPSC "GRAVITRON" SAFETY ALERT HERE

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    Boy, 6, injured in fall from Ferris wheel

    (Saturday, March 20, 2004) - At the Tamworth Show in northern New South Wales, Australia, a 6-year-old boy suffered head injuries and a punctured lung in a fall from the top of a ferris wheel. The boy was hospitalized in critical condition. Reports indicate that the boy was riding with his father in a gondola near the top of the ferris wheel when he fell to the ground.

    "The ride had stopped while people were being unloaded when the man felt his son slipping away from him ... and the child fell to the ground," a police statement said.

    The boy was treated at the scene by ambulance crews before being airlifted to a hospital in Sydney.

    The accident is under investigation.


    Woman, 51, killed in fall from Tennessee ride

    (Sunday, March 14, 2004) - A 51-year-old woman was killed after she fell 60 feet from an amusement ride called
    the Hawk at the Rockin Raceway in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The amusement park closed immediately, and the accident is under investigation.


    Gravitron malfunctions at Texas fair

    (Sunday, March 7, 2004) - At a carnival in Houston, Texas, a Gravitron amusement ride malfunctioned and failed to stop for several minutes. Riders did not suffer any injuries, however one person was taken to a local hospital where they were treated for hyperventilation and released.

    The Gravitron consists of an enclosed cylinder which spins at high speeds, causing centrifugal force to hold riders against their seats which rise against the outer wall of the ride as speed increases.

    In June 2002, another Gravitron ride malfunctioned and failed to stop for nearly 20 minutes at a carnival in Springfield, Virginia. That incident sent 6 people to the hospital and left 16 others with complaints of dizziness, nausea, and headaches. Another person fainted before the ride finally stopped.

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    Disney worker killed at Magic Kingdom

    (Wednesday, February 11, 2004) - At Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom theme park in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, a 38-year-old park worker was killed after being run over by a parade float. The accident happened during an afternoon parade near the Splash Mountain ride. The victim, a costumed worker, was struck as he was leaving a backstage area and entering the park.

    Investigators from the Orange County Sheriff's Office say that all reports indicate the incident was accidental.

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also investigating.


    Carnival ride catches fire; 3 injured

    (Sunday, February 1, 2004) - In West Palm Beach, Florida, three people suffered minor injuries when a carnival ride caught fire at the South Florida Fair. The accident happened on the
    Orbiter, a high-speed spinning ride owned and operated by Lauther Amusements, a subcontractor for Conklin Shows. Investigators say that a leak in the ride's hydraulic system caused oil to spill onto heated areas of the ride, leading to the fire which quickly engulfed the ride, but was extinguished within minutes.

    About 20 riders were evacuated from their seats.

    The Orbiter passed a state inspection less than three weeks ago. It will be examined by its manufacturer, Tivoli.

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    Amusements of Buffalo owner charged with manslaughter, reckless homicide in bumper car death

    (Saturday, January 24, 2004) - The owner of a carnival company faces criminal charges in connection with the death of an 8-year-old boy at the Lake County Fair in Ohio last summer. Eugene Chaffee, owner of Amusements of Buffalo, was charged with manslaughter and reckless homicide on Friday. He pleaded not guilty and was released on a personal bond.

    The victim was severely shocked on August 13, 2003 while he was waiting in line with his father to ride the Scooter, a bumper car ride owned and operated by Amusements of Buffalo. He died three weeks later as a result of his injuries.

    Prosecutors say the ride was not grounded, a procedure that usually prevents electrical shocks.

    Last week, indictments were brought against three others in connection with the boy's death: Ohio state inspectors Theodore Brubaker and Kalin Turner and fair worker Nick Rock. Each was charged with reckless homicide and involuntary manslaughter. The inspectors were also charged with dereliction of duty.

    A fifth person in the case has also been indicted, but he did not appear in court on Friday. Prosecutors may issue a warrant for his arrest.

    The case marks the first time in Ohio that criminal charges have been filed as the result of an amusement ride fatality.

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    Florida orders all Cliff Hanger rides shut down

    (Wednesday, January 21, 2004) - Florida state officials have ordered all Cliff Hanger amusement rides identical to the model which malfunctioned at a fair last weekend to be shut down throughout the state. The order was issued based on the preliminary findings of their investigation into the accident, and a recommendation from the ride's manufacturer, Dartron Industries of Oregon.

    The order, issued by Florida's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Bureau of Fair Rides Inspection, affects 17 Cliff Hanger rides in operation throughout Florida and will remain in effect until the investigation is concluded. Officials say the investigation may take up to a month.

    Inspectors say that the Cliff Hanger ride operated by Wade Shows experienced a structural failure during its operation at the Florida Citrus Festival on Saturday, hurling one of its carriages 30 feet through the air. The carriage, which was carrying three children, crashed into an adjacent ride. One child, age 12, suffered a dislocated shoulder and a broken arm; another child, age 11, suffered a broken leg and a skull fracture; the third child, age 7, broke some of his teeth and received stitches in his chin.

    The ride had passed its yearly inspection in October and another inspection before the fair began.

    Dartron has notified other operators of its Cliff Hanger rides to reinspect them.

    The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has joined the Bureau of Fair Rides Inspection, Dartron Industries and Wade Shows in the investigation of the accident.


    Structural failure blamed in Cliff Hanger accident; fair bans ride

    (Tuesday, January 20, 2004) - The owner of a carnival ride which malfunctioned and left three children injured at a Florida fair says that he believes the accident was the result of structural failure.

    The Cliff Hanger -- a ride which carries passengers as they lie face down in carriages designed to resemble hang gliders -- malfunctioned Saturday at the Florida Citrus Festival in Winter Haven, Florida. A carriage carrying three children broke off from the ride, flew about 30 feet through the air and crashed onto the structure of a nearby bumper car ride. The children were hospitalized and treated for minor injuries and released.

    Investigators say that a section of steel tubing fractured near a weld connecting the children's carriage and the ride's central support.

    "It seems to indicate there is nothing we as a company could have done to prevent this incident," says Frank Zaitshik, owner of Wade Shows, the carnival company that operates the ride.

    The ride had passed a state inspection before the fair opened.

    In light of the accident, another fair has banned the ride from its midway. Officials speaking for the Central Florida Fair which begins in late February say that the ride will not be allowed to operate at their fairgrounds.

    The Cliff Hanger is manufactured by Dartron Industries of Salem, Oregon. Dartron representatives have joined Florida state officials and Wade Shows in investigating the accident.


    Carriage flies off carnival ride; 3 children injured

    (Saturday, January 17, 2004) - At the Florida Citrus Festival in Winter Haven, Florida, three children were injured when a carriage broke off from a carnival ride, flew about 30 feet through the air and crashed onto the structure of a nearby bumper car ride. The accident happened as the children were riding the Cliff Hanger, a ride which carries passengers as they lie face down in carriages designed to resemble hang gliders. Each carriage holds three people. The ride rotates about a central arm, which lifts to a height of 35 feet.

    Firefighters from the Winter Haven Fire Department had to cut through the metal cage that surrounded the carriage to extract the girls, who were locked in. One child suffered a broken arm while the other two suffered minor injuries.

    About 30 people were on the ride at the time of the accident, but no one else was injured.

    The Cliff Hanger is owned and operated by Wade Shows. The company refused to comment on the accident.

    State inspectors are investigating the accident.


    Three face criminal charges in Ohio bumper car death

    (Saturday, January 17, 2004) - A Lake County, Ohio grand jury has indicted two state inspectors and a Lake County Fair worker on criminal charges in the case of an 8-year-old boy who died after suffering electrical shock while standing in line for a bumper car ride at the Lake County Fair last summer. Theodore Brubaker and Kalin Turner, amusement ride inspectors employed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, and Lake County Fair worker Nick Rock face charges of reckless homicide and involuntary manslaughter. The inspectors face an additional count of dereliction of duty.

    The accident happened on August 13, 2003. The victim was severely shocked while he was waiting in line with his father to ride the Scooter, a bumper car ride. According to witnesses, the boy was holding onto the rail which surrounded the ride and may also have been standing on a black electrical cord that was part of the ride. He was then shocked, calling out "Help me" as he collapsed to the ground. He never regained consciousness and died three weeks later.

    Some witnesses told investigators that they had been mildly shocked at the ride earlier in the day, and one witness said she had been shocked by the same ride at the same location a year earlier.

    Assistant Lake County prosecutor Vince Culotta said that the ride's electrical system was not properly grounded and that the accused failed to follow proper state codes concerning amusement ride safety.

    All three men pleaded not guilty. Each of them faces up to five years in prison for each count.

    Prosecutors said two more secret indictments in the case are likely to be made public next week.

    The case marks the first time in Ohio that criminal charges have been filed as the result of an amusement ride fatality.


    Tree falls on chairlift cable at Dreamland; 60 rescued

    (Saturday, January 17, 2004) - At Dreamland theme park in Gold Coast, Australia, 60 people were left stranded on a chairlift ride after a freak storm hit the park suddenly, knocking debris from trees onto the ride's cables. Riders were left stranded in their seats for up to three hours as they dangled over the park at heights of up to 50 feet. Firemen from the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service used a cherrypicker to rescue passengers and clear out the trees and debris that affected the ride. The ride was later restarted and none of the passengers was injured.


    Woman sues Six Flags

    (Wednesday, January 14, 2004) - A Wisconsin woman is suing Six Flags over head injuries she claims to have suffered when an object struck her while she was riding 'The Villain' roller coaster at Six Flags Worlds of Adventure theme park in Aurora, Ohio in July, 2000. According to the lawsuit, the woman sustained an open depressed skull fracture and lacerations and part of her skull had to be removed. The woman claims to suffer from significant and permanent injuries including scarring, disfigurement, headaches, brain injury and emotional distress. The lawsuit says that Six Flags knew individuals had thrown rocks and other objects at the ride prior to the incident and had a duty to "prevent foreseeable injury to its customers."


    Family sues carnival company

    (Tuesday, January 13, 2004) - The parents of a Texas carnival worker who was killed while he was setting up a carnival ride in September are suing the carnival operator for which the man worked.

    The 20-year-old victim, an employee of Crabtree Amusements, was electrocuted as he was preparing a Ferris wheel for the opening of the Gregg County Fair in Longview, Texas. He was working 40-50 feet off the ground behind some lights at the center of the wheel when his knee touched a power source.

    The lawsuit alleges that the company failed to provide proper training to the man and failed to provide him with the proper equipment to do his job safely. It seeks up to $2 million for injuries and damages.

    RELATED STORY:

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    Girl, 6, thrown from Sizzler, injured

    (Saturday, January 10, 2004) - A 6-year-old girl suffered serious head injuries when she was thrown from a Sizzler ride at Pratten Park in Broadbeach, Australia. Police and Workplace Health and Safety inspectors investigating the accident believe that the girl put her feet up on the seat of the ride and folded her legs, leaving her unrestrained by the ride's metal safety bar. The ride operator shouted at the girl and pressed the stop button when he realized that she had moved, but the girl was thrown from her seat and hit her head on the ride's metal frame. She was hospitalized in critical but stable condition.

    The ride was found to be in safe operating condition.


    Boy injured on 'Men in Black' ride at Universal Studios

    (Thursday, January 8, 2004) - At Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, an 11-year-old boy was injured on the 'Men in Black' ride when his foot got caught. Witnesses say that the boy repeatedly stuck his foot out of the car and eventually jammed it between the car and the ride platform.

    There was no indication that the ride malfunctioned, and it was found to be in safe operating condition.

    The boy was hospitalized and may lose a toe as a result of the mishap.


    Boy, 5, in critical condition after fall from Jeepers roller coaster

    (Sunday, January 4, 2004) - In North Randall, Ohio, a 5-year-old boy was in critical condition after he fell from a children's roller coaster at Jeepers, a children's entertainment center. The boy suffered a cracked pelvis, a broken leg, a bruised kidney, and an injured spleen. He is expected to undergo surgery within days.

    The Ohio Department of Agriculture is investigating.

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