When parents take their children to local amusement parks, state fairs, water parks, or major theme parks they expect the amusement park operators to keep the facilities safe and free from dangerous conditions. This expectation requires park operators to ensure that a sufficient maintenance plan is in place so that aspects of the park are replaced before they are likely to break or become dangerous. For instance, handrails should be verified on a daily basis to avoid injuries stemming from a loose rail and pathways should be assessed for cracks and pooling of water.
Unfortunately, the summer of 2016 has been marked by several serious amusement park accidents. Early in the season a young girl was scalped by a ride known as King’s Crown. Just weeks ago, a young boy was decapitated on the world’s tallest waterslide. And, just days later, several young girls fell from a defective Ferris wheel and a three-year-old boy fell from his seat in a rollercoaster car. These two latter incidents both produced serious injuries including traumatic brain injuries that required hospitalization. Unfortunately, on Friday, August 19, 2016, yet another serious incident occurred at an amusement park.
Electric Shock Injures 6 at Ocean Beach Amusement Park
According to an ABC News report, police were informed of an incident at the local amusement party shortly before 2 p.m. on Friday afternoon. Police who arrived on the scene were originally under the belief that a single small child was electrocuted and may have been struck by lightning at the park. However, when police arrived they found six victims who suffered an electric shock.
Reports initially focused on the young boy who was initially believed to be the only victim of the accident. The young boy was electrocuted when he came in contact with a handrail that was electrified due to the faulty wiring. The boy was noted as having burns on the palms of his hands where he came in contact with the rail. All six injury victims were transported to a local hospital. While the injuries sustained are not believed to be life-threatening, there is further information regarding their severity.
How Did the Accident Occur?
According to investigators, the electric shock was caused by faulty wiring in the park’s Scrambler ride. The faulty wiring was part of the ride’s lighting system. While reporting at the scene the ABC News reporter remarks that, “You’ll see the lights going on and off at different rides behind us because they’re trying to isolate where the electric surge is coming from.” While it is not clear whether the accident could have been prevented through route maintenance, investigators will undoubtedly assess this possibility before concluding their investigation.
What Regulations Must Amusement Parks in Connecticut Follow?
As we frequently discuss on this blog, regulation and oversight of amusement parks is left to a patchwork of state and local agencies. In Connecticut, the state Dept. of Consumer Protection is responsible for inspecting rides and investigating major accidents. Rides must be inspected each year for fixed-location amusement park rides and at each assembly for rides at carnivals. Connecticut law requires that any accident that produces a “serious physical injury” to be reported within 4 hours. A “serious physical injury” is any injury that causes significant disfigurement, results in a serious impairment, or presents a substantial risk of death.