5 Amusement Park Tragedies
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5 Amusement Park Tragedies

By Richard Console on December 20, 2011

When you go to an amusement park you expect a day of rides, games, and fun—you do not expect to be injured, or worse, killed. Nothing can make you more wary about getting onto a ride than knowing that people do get seriously injured. Sometimes it is due to breaking of rules such as entering a restricted area, others it is the fault of the ride operator, and then there are the times when it is a ride malfunction that results in tragedy.
There are some theme park accidents we will never forget. Here are some of the most notorious and memorable amusement park tragedies that have happened in thiscountry.

Photo credit: Hagerman, Wikimedia CommonsCreative Commons

Six Flags Over Georgia, Austell, GA

We have all seen the signs that hang on the fences surrounding amusement park attractions. They are there for a reason, and going beyond the signs could mean tragedy as it did for one teen at the Six Flags Over Georgia park. The teenager had just come off of the “Batman” ride when he made the decision to hop two fences, which said the area was restricted, along with one of his friends in order to retrieve the hat he lost during the ride. While in the restricted area the ride came past, decapitating the teen. The friend and individuals on the ride were not injured. The ride was said to have been going full speed at 50 miles per hour when it stuck the teen.

Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, Louisville, KY

It was supposed to be a day of fun when 14-year-old Kaitlyn Lasitter and her friends visited Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom in June 2007, but it ended in tragedy. The girls decided to ride the “Superman Tower of Power” attraction, and since there were no lines the girls decided to ride a second time. When the ride began the second time, Lasitter reported that the ride jolted then her and her friends started to get hit with falling cables all over their bodies. The teen realized when they were finally on the ground that the cables had severed both of her feet. Doctors were able to reattach only the right foot. The family sued the park and they reached a settlement outside of court for an undisclosed amount.

Darien Lake Amusement Park, Darien, NY

Sgt. James Hackemer died when he fell out of the “Ride of Steel” at Darien Lake Amusement Park in July 2011. The Iraqi war veteran lost both of his legs in a roadside bombing while he was serving our country. Hackemer’s nephew, who attended the park with him, reported to the New York Post that he remembers his uncle asking the park staff which rides were okay for him to go on and they told them he was fine to go on them all. The “Ride of Steel,” a rollercoaster that is 208 feet high and reaches speeds upwards of 70 miles per hour, only offers a lap belt and bar to hold its guests in. The Sgt., having no legs and in turn no lap, should not have been allowed on the ride as it could not properly secure him. The victim fell out of the car on the first turn after the highest drop on the ride.

Disney World, Orlando, FL

One of the perks to staying in the Disney World park is that the monorail can transport you all over the park. In 2009, two monorail trains crashed, which caused the death of Austin Wuennenberg, 21, who was operating one of the trains. The crash was reported to have been a result of a beam not fully transferring over, causing the two trains to be on the same track. The park was fined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the amount was undisclosed. Since the crash that caused $24,000,000 in damages, Disney has implemented new safety procedures that require monorail operators to carefully and diligently watch a beam change to try and avoid another crash.

Disneyland, Anaheim, CA

Marcelo Torres, 22, was killed while riding the “Big Thunder Mountain Railroad” attraction in 2003. A locomotive separated from the track in a tunnel section of the ride, which injured several other guests in addition to killing Torres. He suffered blunt force trauma to the chest and bled out. The family settled out of court with the park for an undisclosed amount, but they did donate a large sum of money to a California college to set up a scholarship fund in their son’s name—he was a graphic designer.

If you or someone you love has been injured as a result of an amusement park accident contact a skilled personal injury attorney to get the compensation you deserve.

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