The 2017 fair, festival, carnival, and amusement season is just getting underway. However, on the heels of a 2016 season that was also marked by serious amusement park injuries and incidents, the accidents that have already transpired do not inspire confidence.
While accidents can occur in any industry or form of entertainment, the injuries that have plagued theme parks and carnivals point to larger, systemic problems. Perhaps the root of most amusement park accidents is the fact that there is no national standard for regulating rides or making sure they are safe. The result of this approach is a patchwork or state laws and regulations that lead to very different approaches to maintenance, training, and operations. All in all, this patchwork approach can mean that safety issues linger for years until a serious incident or accident occurs.
Three Fell From a Port Townsend Carnival Ferris Wheel
Aside from making sure that a ride is in sound operating condition, one of the most important safety duties a park or ride operator has is to ensure that guests know the safety rules of a ride. Guests who know the safety rules are more likely to follow them because they understand that certain behaviors will make an accident and injury more likely. In contrast, riders who are not informed of the rules are more likely to inadvertently break them.
At the fair, three individuals suffered serious injuries when their Ferris wheel car overturned. A 59-year-old woman suffered critical injuries due to her fall from the Ferris wheel. Also injured in the accident were a 7-year-old boy and a 40-year-old woman. They boy and the younger woman were released from the hospital shortly after the incident with only mild to moderate injuries.
In this case, it appears that the cause of the accident was not mechanical, but may have to do with the behavior of the riders. Eyewitnesses reported that the ride operator had warned a party on the ride to stop rocking the gondola. However, it was not clear whether it was the same party or another party that had been warned. Furthermore, other eyewitnesses seemed to indicate that something more than rocking had caused the accident. One eyewitness interviewed by a local news station stated that she heard a grinding noise and then “It went all the way up, and as it started coming back down almost at the very top, the cart right above us started shaking.”
Investigators are still working to determine a final cause of this early-season Ferris wheel accident.
Opening Day Water Park Accident Raises New Questions Regarding Water Slide Safety
A second serious accident occurred on opening day at a California water park. While the accident did not result in consequences as severe as last year’s waterslide fatality on the Verrückt. This accident occurred at a California waterpark on the park’s main slide: The Wave.
According to accounts provided by park officials, the accident involved a ten-year-old boy. The boy was riding the waterslide when he began to hydroplane. Due to the loss of friction between the slide and he boy’s body, he apparently picked up speed. As the boy continued down the slide, he was launched over the side and into a concrete barrier. Thankfully, the boy only suffered minor cuts, scrapes, and bruises. However, the accident could have been much worse. Last year the accident on the Verrückt illustrated that fatal injuries are possible when a rider is launched from the surface of a waterslide.
The park has not yet determined an official cause of the accident. Investigators are looking into whether certain slide equipment was improperly installed or not functioning as intended. The inquiry will also likely explore whether any actions by the boy contributed to the accident. One possible solution to the issue currently being explored by the park is whether the water pressure on jets installed in the slide is too great.
Injured at an Amusement Park?
If you have suffered a serious injury at an amusement park, water park, fair, or carnival you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The personal injury lawyers of Reiff & Bily are dedicated to holding parties responsible for causing injuries financially accountable. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call 800-861-6708.