Wrongful deaths on roller coasters
August 13, 2015
Thrill seekers may see riding roller coasters as a safer way to enjoy an exhilarating ride, but unfortunately there have been wrongful death incidents that may convince you to rethink riding one.
Last summer, a woman fell off a 14-storey high roller coaster at Six Flags Over Texas because she was not safely secured in her seat. The woman was seated on her own, while her son-in-law and wife were in front of her, according to CNN. The woman’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit accusing the amusement park of negligence in which it states that a member of the woman’s family saw the woman be thrown out of the roller coaster car, and then hit a tunnel’s metal roof below after which she died from traumatic injuries, according to CNN. Initially, Six Flags denied liability in the incident since it didn’t manufacture the ride, but eventually both Six Flags and Gerstlauer Amusement Rides, the maker of the Texas Giant ride, settled a lawsuit with the family under undisclosed terms.
The Texas Giant roller coaster was closed for about two months before it reopened with added safety features, such as new seat belts and redesigned bar pads. But after the incident, Canadian amusement parks were on alert.
While there have been no ride-related deaths in more than 30 years at Canada’s Wonderland, a spokesperson told the Globe and Mail, Wonderland briefly closed one of its rides in 2007 after there was an accident in a US amusement park on a similar ride. Drop Zone at Wonderland was shut down after a 13-year-old girl’s feet were severed while riding the Superman Tower of Power at Six Flags in Kentucky.
One of the most deadly roller coaster accidents in Canada was in the West Edmonton Mall on the Mindbender ride in the indoor Galaxyland Amusement Park in 1986. The last car of the roller coaster derailed during its last loop and hit a concrete pillar, which killed three passengers and injured 19 people. During the investigation, it was discovered that bolts were missing from the car’s wheel assembly of the triple-loop roller coaster. The ride was closed for a few months, before it reopened with redesigned train cars with reduced seats and an added seatbelt and headrest.
While the roller coaster remained accident free since, in 2011, a maintenance employee was seriously injured when he was hit by a rotating roller coaster car in the West Edmonton mall indoor amusement park, according to the Edmonton Journal. The worker was getting a visitor’s hat on the tracks of the Galaxy Orbiter, when he was knocked unconscious by the spinning car. The car was carrying passengers when the worker was hit, but none of them were injured. The Orbiter and Mindbender were both closed by the amusement park as the Occupational Health and Safety department investigated the matter.
Before getting onto a ride, always check that you fit within weight or height requirements. On occasion, there are chairs available in front of the ride to give you an idea of the amount of space you’ll have. Before getting onto the ride, pay attention to any signs for how to strap yourself in safely and be aware of any safety precautions, such as hearing a click to ensure that your seatbelt has been fastened properly.
After getting on the ride and securing yourself, there should always be ride operators that come around to double check that you’re safely strapped in. If you don’t feel secure, it’s better disembark from the ride rather than risk your safety. Roller coasters travel at fast speeds in different directions with a good amount of force and in many cases, the only thing holding you in your seat are bars or seatbelts. You should be able to feel confident in the ride’s safety before it starts moving.
The personal injury and accident lawyers at Neinstein & Associates have handled accident injuries for clients throughout Ontario for over 45 years. We understand the effect injuries can have on your life and we’re experienced in assisting you through your claim, but also your recovery. Call us at 416-920-4242. Set up a free consultation and come talk with us.