Recently, we wrote about the tragic death of a young boy on the Veruckt slide at the Schlitterbahn Waterpark. The young boy was decapitated on the water-slide after eyewitnesses to the accident described “banging” and “loud noises” coming from the slide as the fated raft slid down. Some believe that the Velcro straps used to hold riders in the water-slide rafts were insufficient, to begin with, while other think that it became fatigued with use over time. This accident is truly a terrible tragedy.
Unfortunately, the events of the past week have necessitated an additional fair and amusement park accident report on this blog. While, at the time of this writing, these subsequent accidents in Tennessee and Pennsylvania did not result in fatalities, at least one of the individuals injured in these two accidents was listed as being in critical condition.
Operator in Tennessee Ferris Wheel Accident Has History of Safety Issues
On the evening of Monday, August 8th, 2016, three young girls suffered serious injuries when they fell from a Ferris wheel at a fair in eastern Tennessee. The youngest of the victims, a six-year-old girl, suffered serious traumatic brain injuries due to the fall. The injury was so severe that she was intubated at the scene before being rushed to a local hospital. According to the director of trauma services for the hospital, “She has been under the continual care of the pediatric surgery service, the pediatric intensive care unit team as well as the neurosurgery team.” The girl’s ten-year-old sister apparently suffered broken bones due to the fall and is in a cast. A third unidentified victim was originally listed in critical condition before being upgraded to stable condition.
According to eyewitness reports, the accident occurred at roughly 6:15 p.m. on Monday evening. A representative for the local police department stated that the accident occurred because the car the girls were riding in flipped over. The girls fell more than 30 feet to the ground.
A “mechanical failure” has been attributed as the cause of the accident, however, the company has had safety problems in the past. A CBC News report found that the company who operated Ferris wheel was permitted to keep its ride operator license despite a serious accident in another state that injured five and resulted in the company owners’ son being sentenced to prison. The incident occurred at the North Carolina State Fair where five people were injured on a ride known as the Vortex when the ride unexpectedly started while riders were exiting the ride. Investigators later determined that ride operators had deliberately disabled a safety mechanism to prevent this issue.
Boy Suffers Serious TBI after fall from Pennsylvania Roller Coaster
Just days after the water-slide fatality and serious injuries inflicted in the Ferris wheel accident, a third serious incident was reported at the Idlewild & Soak Zone in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. The accident occurred on a ride known as the Rollo Coaster. The Rollo Coaster is a venerable attraction and has been present at the park since 1938. While it was initially marketed as a thrill ride, it is more of a small roller coaster by modern standards. However, even less intense roller coasters harbor the potential for serious injury when restraints fail to keep riders in their seat.
According to reports by individuals at the scene, the young three-year-old boy was riding with his brother. The boy fell out of the roller coaster car when the car was navigating a turn. The boy fell more than ten feet to the ground landing on his head. The boy was suspected of having a serious TBI and was rushed to a local medical facility for surgery.
Following the accidents, some park guests commented that it seemed that the ride’s restraints were insufficient. One park guest who rode the roller coaster earlier in the day told a local news station that “I had to literally hold [my son] down. There was no belt to hold him in. He even asked why there wasn’t a belt.” The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the government agency charged with overseeing ride safety in the state, has yet to comment regarding these statements. However, the agency is currently engaged in a full investigation into the accident.
Injured in a Carnival or Amusement Park Accident?
We wish all injured parties a rapid, and full recovery. We will continue to update the situation as additional details become available because we believe that informing the public about the foreseeable risks at fairs and carnivals is a key step towards improving ride safety.
If you or a loved one have suffered a serious accident at an amusement park due to negligence or unsafe rides, the lawyers of Reiff & Bily may be able to fight for compensation for your injuries. This compensation can provide the medical care and support your child or loved one needs to recover from his or her injuries while reducing the likelihood that another family will face the same situation. To schedule a free and confidential ride accident consultation with an attorney call Reiff & Bily at 800-861-6708 today.