While the Zippin Pippin’s history in Green Bay at the Bay Beach Amusement Park is relatively brief, the ride has a long and storied history stretching back to the early 20th century. The ride was originally known simply as the Pippin. It celebrated its opening day back in 1912 at the East End Park in Memphis Tennessee. However, some dispute this date and believe that the roller coaster opened as late as 1917. In any case, the coaster suffered severe damage in a 1928 tornado that required the ride to be substantially reconstructed. As the years went on, the East End Park declined in popularity leading to the coaster being dismantled and moved to Montgomery Park which would later be known as the Mid-South Fairgrounds. The Mid-South Fairgrounds would later become home to a Memphis theme park known as Libertyland.Eventually, the Libertyland park in Memphis also declined and closed in 2005. This left the Zippin Pippin in need of a home. The coaster was auctioned off in 2005. After several false-starts, the roller coaster finally found a home and party to relocate it through the city of Green Bay, Wisconsin. The roller coaster has operated at the bay Beach Amusement Park since 2011. According to reports, this is the first major accident and incident since the ride war relocated.
HOW DID THE ROLLER COASTER ACCIDENT OCCUR?
According to news reports, the roller coaster accident occurred in a particularly unexpected manner. Furthermore, the location of the accident in the loading and unloading area made the incident particularly shocking and impactful due to the close proximity to onlookers. According to Justin Hoelscher who was interviewed by the local Fox affiliate, “It was terrifying. I’m there with my six-year-old daughter waiting to go on and people were horrified. You saw people instantly crying and reacting that they were obviously startled.”
While it is not entirely clear what caused the ride to malfunction, a coaster car hurtled into the loading and unloading area of the ride. Apparently a braking mechanism that was supposed to slow the car did not function or the car approached the area with excessive speed effectively rendering the break non-operable. The errant car was loaded with passengers and collided with another roller coaster car that was still unoccupied.
One of the riders of the car that did not stop described the incident as such, “…we were going over the last hill, the car didn’t stop or slow down at all and I seen the other car and I was like how are we supposed to stop and it was just then a large bang. The cart hit a worker and he went up and over the car and fell in the first seat of it.”
It appears that the injuries suffered in the accident are less severe than they could have been, but it is still possible for the condition of the three injured individuals to deteriorate. One of the park guests reported a “tweaked” and “sore” neck. The injuries suffered by the park employee have not yet been disclosed but they have been characterized a minor.
WAS THE RIDE INSPECTED?
On this blog, we frequently lament the problems created by the lack of a national amusement park watchdog and a patchwork of safety inspection and enforcement efforts. However, in this case, it appears that inspections had occurred relatively recently. According to reports, state inspectors had assessed the ride before the start of the summer season. Furthermore, the park states that employees inspect the ride daily. The park did not provide details regarding what the daily inspection entails.
In any case, the ride is currently being re-inspected by state and city workers to determine the exact cause of the failure and to make related repairs. Representatives from the park have already indicated that the park will need to make repairs to the rear of one of the coaster cars. The ride is expected to remain closed for at least a week while officials attempt to get to the bottom of the accident.
INJURED IN AN AMUSEMENT PARK? CONTACT REIFF & BILY, PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS IN PHILADELPHIA
If you or a loved one have suffered serious, life-altering injuries in an amusement park or at a fair or carnival, the lawyers of Reiff & Bily may be able to fight on your behalf. For more than 35 years our personal injury lawyers have fought for hard-working, injured people. To schedule a free and confidential consultation call our law office at 800-861-6708 or contact us online.