Incidents at Cedar Fair parks
This is a summary of notable incidents that have taken place at amusement parks, water parks, or theme parks that are currently owned or operated by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company. This list is not intended to be a comprehensive list of every such event, but only those that have a significant impact on the parks or park operations, or are otherwise significantly newsworthy. In some cases, incidents occurred while the park was under different management or owners.
The term incidents refers to major accidents, injuries, or deaths that occur at a park. While these incidents were required to be reported to regulatory authorities due to where they occurred, they usually fall into one of the following categories:
- Caused by negligence on the part of the guest. This can be refusal to follow specific ride safety instructions, or deliberate intent to break park rules.
- The result of a guest's known or unknown health issues.
- Negligence on the part of the park, either by ride operator or maintenance.
- Act of God or a generic accident (e.g., slipping and falling) that is not a direct result of an action on anybody's part.
- 1 Canada's Wonderland
- 2 Carowinds
- 3 Cedar Point
- 4 California's Great America
- 5 Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom
- 6 Geauga Lake
- 7 Kings Dominion
- 8 Kings Island
- 9 Knott's Berry Farm
- 10 Michigan's Adventure
- 11 Valleyfair
- 12 Worlds of Fun
- 13 WindSeeker
- 14 References
- On October 26, 2014, two people were stabbed in the parking lot of the amusement park after it had closed for the evening. One, a 21-year-old man, was pronounced dead at the scene. The other victim, an 18-year-old man, was taken to an area hospital with what were described as "critical injuries", but he was later released. The attack occurred along the outer edge of the parking lot after the conclusion of the evening's Halloween Haunt event. Park officials could not connect the attack to the Halloween event, but parkgoers said they believed the park was overcrowded, with one interviewed guest saying she believed that may have contributed to the attack. On November 13, 2014, York police announced the arrest of an 18-year-old man in connection with the attack. They further stated that they believed the attack was part of a confrontation between groups of individuals inside the park that was continued in the parking lot, and that there may have been other victims who did not report their injuries.
- An 18-year-old diver from Scarborough, Ontario drowned in a slow whirlpool in the pond below the waterfall on Victoria Day weekend in 1988. He had been swimming for 10 minutes, before approaching the falls to retrieve a frisbee. His brother tried to help him, but was pulled underwater several times. Resuscitation efforts by security staff failed. In an inquest, Wonderland's Director of Engineering denied the pond had an undertow. A nearby life ring had been tied to a tree with 6 metres (20 feet) of rope, not enough to reach the middle of the pool. A high diver who worked at the park for seven years said he told his supervisor of the undertow during the previous season. He claimed unauthorized swimmers frequently used the pond, and that there were 30 to 40 at one time. The park's Director of Safety and Security said he was never informed of the undertow, and only saw bathers in the pool once. The previous Director also denied hearing a complaint, and no official record of it exists. Security and extra signs were posted after the incident. Wonderland said the man shouldn't have been throwing frisbees in the area.
Flying Ace Aerial Chase
- On April 4, 2015, 20 guests were stranded more than 20 feet above ground when the ride's safety features shut the ride down automatically when an undetermined glitch occurred.
- On March 17, 2007, seven of sixteen employees riding a pre-season test run of the BORG Assimilator (later renamed Nighthawk) received minor injuries when an operator accidentally triggered the train's emergency brakes at the base of the vertical loop, about eight feet off the ground. The button the operator pushed, which adjusts the seat position, has been fixed to operate only while the ride is stopped.
- On April 5, 1999, two trains collided, injuring seven people. Sensors on the ride were replaced before the ride re-opened.
- On April 11, 2015, 60 passengers were stuck on the 300-ft tall ride for approximately 15 minutes when a safety mechanism halted the ride.
- On July 28, 2013, 65 passengers were stuck on the ride for over an hour, when a safety mechanism halted the ride.
Cedar Creek Mine Ride
- On May 24, 1984, a five-year-old boy fractured his skull after falling from the train's front seat during its 30-foot drop.
- On July 13, 2013, a Columbus, Ohio man was found unresponsive on the GateKeeper train after it returned to station. He was given CPR on scene, then hospitalized. A park spokesman said the man survived a medical condition unrelated to the ride, which reopened about six hours later after passing a mechanical inspection.
- On May 26, 2007, a train moving at about 10 mph (16 km/h) hit a parked one, causing minor damage to both and injuring at least three passengers. Two were treated on scene, and a third, who had an asthma attack, was taken to a local hospital. The ride returned to single-train service the next day. The park said the accident was due to early morning rainstorms leaving the tracks too wet.
Shoot the Rapids
- On July 19, 2013, a boat rolled back down the ride's lift hill and flipped over, injuring seven, and was said to leave them stranded under water for a few minutes before park employees could get them out. Six were cleared by park medical staff, and one was examined at a local hospital before being released. The ride closed during the investigation. Cedar Point reopened the ride in May 2014.
- On July 28, 2014, a cable supporting one of the carriages on the pendulum snapped injuring 2 people, one was treated at a local hospital, while the other was treated on the scene. The ride was closed indefinitely on the day the incident occurred. The ride is now operating on both sides as of the 2015 season.
- On May 18, 1985, ten people were stranded on Space Spiral for seven hours. The cab was raised to the top of the tower, and the operator led the passengers down the stairs inside the tower down to the ground.
Snake River Falls
- On July 3, 2013, a boat on Snake River Falls jumped the track and dislodged after the drop. Cedar Point said this was because of a low water level throughout the ride.
Top Thrill Dragster
- On July 14, 2004, four people were struck by metal debris that sheared off the coaster's launch cable during launch. They were treated at the park's first aid station. Two were further treated at Firelands Regional Medical Center.
- On January 15, 2002, 200 feet of one of VertiGo's 265-foot steel towers collapsed for unknown reasons. The park was closed for the winter, so no one was injured. On March 11, 2002, the park announced the removal of VertiGo rides from both Cedar Point and Knott's Berry Farm, reasoning guests would be less likely to ride them after the collapse.
White Water Landing
- On July 20, 2002, two boats stuck at the bottom of the drop were hit by a third from behind. All six riders were examined at hospital for minor injuries and released. The ride reopened the next day after an investigation.
- On May 16, 2008, a car rolled backward down a hill, colliding with another. Ten people received minor injuries. Initial inspections revealed a suspected fault in the ride’s anti-rollback system.
- On June 5, 2011, a moving car collided with a stationary one in the station. Seven people received bumps and bruises. Four were treated at the park's first aid station, and three were sent to Firelands Regional Medical Center as a precaution.
California's Great America
Drop Tower: Scream Zone
- In August 1999, a 12-year-old boy with a mental disability fell from the tower and died. His family claimed the harness was not locked properly. An investigation was inconclusive and no charges were filed.
- On September 7, 1998, a man was killed by the dangling leg of a woman riding Top Gun (now called Flight Deck). He only knew Spanish, so could not read the park's warning signs and entered a fenced, off-limits area under the ride to retrieve his hat. The woman broke her leg.
Great Barrier Reef
- On July 12, 2007, a four-year-old boy drowned in a two-foot deep area of the wave pool. Lifeguards and EMTs tried to resuscitate him, but he was pronounced dead at the hospital.
- In 1989, two boys intentionally jumped out of this log flume ride. One died and the other fell safely onto an emergency platform.
- On March 29, 1980, two trains collided, killing a 14-year-old boy and injuring eight others. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission charged the park with not reporting a possible defect in the ride's braking system, and the matter was settled for $70,000. Marriott Corporation settled the civil penalty action brought by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission with a US$70,000 payment. The Commission found that eleven other incidents happened on the ride between 1976 and 1979, resulting in an unknown number of injuries.
Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom
- On July 21, 1990, two cars collided at the bottom of the lift hill. Seventeen people went to local hospitals for minor injury treatment. Operators tested the ride after the accident and found nothing mechanically or physically wrong with it. Operator error was posited as a cause. It re-opened the next day.
Baywatch Water Show
- On August 17, 1996, a boat driver lost control of his allegedly mechanically failing boat during a Baywatch-themed water-ski stunt show, crashing it into the fifth row of the stadium. Seventeen people were hospitalized, and five were treated on-scene.
Raging Wolf Bobs
- On June 16, 2007, the last car of one of the trains on Raging Wolf Bobs derailed after a rollback on one of the ride hills. It was closed for the rest of the season. The ride never re-opened, as Geauga Lake closed after the 2007 season.
In the afternoon of May 27, 2014, a transformer near Safari Village blew, causing Intimidator 305, Volcano: The Blast Coaster, Anaconda, Backlot Stunt Coaster and Avalanche to halt operations immediately, with riders present. Through precautionary measures, all rides in the park except for Flying Eagles and Blue Ridge Tollway (which operates via gasoline) were ordered to halt operations immediately. No injuries or deaths of any nature were reported and all guests were safely removed from ride vehicles.
Volcano, The Blast Coaster
- On June 23, 2006, debris sent flying during the coaster's launch cut a man's leg. An investigation discovered a loose bolt had become lodged in the linear induction motor magnets used to launch the train.
- On August 23, 1999, a 20-year-old Long Island man fell from his safety restraints to his death. An investigation discovered the restraints were working properly and still secured when the train returned to the station. Less than a month later, a 13-year-old boy, concerned that he was not properly restrained, intentionally slipped out of them as the train ascended the lift hill and jumped onto the adjacent maintenance catwalk.
- On July 20, 2012, a 48-year-old woman from Pitt County, North Carolina, was found unresponsive in a car after the train returned to the unloading station. She was reported to have had a "seizure-like episode" after her ride. She was taken to a hospital, where she died. An autopsy discovered she had a brain aneurysm. The ride reopened on July 23, 2012, after passing two safety inspections.
Flight of Fear
- On June 2, 2014, smoke from an overheated electrical motor filled the attraction building. Two people were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation.
Lion Country Safari
- On July 24, 1976, a lion mauled a 20-year-old park employee to death. His body was found several feet from his vehicle, which was protected by iron bars, in a section of the park's 1000-acre wildlife preserve where about 50 lions lived. Park officials didn't know why the employee left the protection of his vehicle.
- On May 26, 1982, a lion attacked a 34-year-old park employee who was cleaning in the area. After climbing to a rooftop, he was rescued and treated for a punctured trachea and other cuts.
- On June 9, 1991, a severely intoxicated (BAC 0.30%) 32-year-old Toledo, Ohio woman fell out of the ride and died. An investigation discovered she had disregarded proper safety procedures prior to launch.
- On June 9, 1991, a park employee and a guest, trying to help a third man who had fallen into a pond, were electrocuted by an underwater circulation pump.
Son of Beast
- On July 9, 2006, a vertical support timber called a bent leg cracked, leading to two more bent leg failures. Together, these caused a slight dip in the track, creating a jarring "pothole effect" that injured 27 riders as they passed over, many in the neck and chest. About 17 injured were released from hospital within five hours. Others were kept overnight. None of the injuries were life-threatening. The ride reopened on July 4, 2007, with various changes. The loop was removed to allow for lighter trains and a smoother ride, according to park officials.
- On June 16, 2009, a 39-year-old woman reported injuring her head while riding on May 31. A CAT scan found she'd damaged a blood vessel. She was transferred to another hospital's intensive care unit and released the next day. The ride was closed, while a state investigation determined it had no irregularities. It remained closed until the fall of 2012, when it was demolished.
- On August 7, 2009, a Toledo, Ohio man appeared to have trouble breathing after the train came back into the station. He was taken to Bethesda North Hospital, where he died. He had a pre-existing heart condition and was still recovering from a severe flu and a respiratory infection at the time of his ride.
Knott's Berry Farm
- On December 30, 2012, the left rear wheel fell off the stagecoach, causing it to tip and fall on its side, on the trail near the Ferris Wheel in Camp Snoopy. Of fourteen passengers, three were hospitalized for minor injuries. Parts of Camp Snoopy and other attractions closed for several hours, while personnel moved the coach out of guests' views.
- On September 1, 2001, a 20-year-old woman died of a ruptured cerebral artery a day after her ride. The ride was closed for several days pending an investigation. An autopsy revealed the woman had a pre-existing condition, and state investigators concluded the ride did not contribute to her death. Her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2002, which was dismissed in 2006.
- On September 21, 2001, a 40-year-old woman fell out of the boat when it plunged and died of multiple blunt force trauma. California Division of Occupational Safety and Health officials said she somehow came out of the ride's restraint system, falling into a pool at the base of the structure. Her seat belt and lap bar were closed and locked when the boat returned to the station.
- On October 7, 2010, the launch system failed to power a train over the first hill, letting it roll back into the station and collide with another, causing minor injuries to ten people. An investigation discovered that paint had impaired the brakes.
- On September 16, 2009, a launch cable snapped, lacerating a 12-year-old boy's leg and hurting an adult's back.
- On June 30, 2000, a 38-year-old woman fell out of the ride and was critically injured, after turning to photograph her relatives in the cars behind her.
- On July 30, 2001, the upper rotating portion of the ride separated from the stationary portion. This led to a sudden collapse of the passenger ride wheel. The rotation was immediately halted, and several of the passenger cars were severely damaged. Of 33 people on the ride, 31 were sent to local hospitals, most with minor injuries. The other two were removed from their vehicle nine hours after the collapse. An investigation blamed maintenance for allowing bolts to loosen, twist and break, and structural fatigue fractures that were discovered afterward.
- On May 21, 2006, a mounting bracket in the track's braking system malfunctioned, damaging the rear axle of the fifth of six cars in a train, causing the sixth to disconnect and tip over into an adjacent fence, causing minor injuries to 18 people. Fourteen were sent to nearby St. Francis Medical Center, and soon released. The ride reopened on June 1, after passing multiple safety inspections and tests.
Worlds of Fun
- On July 17, 1999, two cars of a seven-car train derailed due to severe internal metal fatigue in a support post, stranding 18 people. Two were immediately taken to hospital, and six went later. None of the injuries were life-threatening.
- On March 31, 1990, two trains collided just short of the station, injuring 35 people. The control system had malfunctioned, and was unable to control two trains at once. The ride reopened with a single train until the control system was fixed to handle two.
- On June 30, 1995, a 14-year-old girl fell about 25 feet (7.6 m) from the coaster and died. The park owner, Hunt-Midwest, and ride manufacturer, Dinn Corporation, said she was switching seats when the accident occurred, though her family disputed this. The ride was temporarily closed pending an investigation of its safety features, which resulted in new lapbar installations. Hunt-Midwest and Dinn Corporation settled with the family for $200,000.
- On August 2, 2014, an 11-year-old was taken to a hospital after being injured on the ride. The boy hit his head and then his nose on the ride's restraint. No serious injuries resulted from the incident, although the boy's mother requested that he be taken to the hospital. She claims that the boy suffered from a concussion. Worlds of Fun did not comment on the incident. However, on their website, there are warnings which mention the possibility of accidents like this on Timber Wolf.
During the 2012 season, all of the WindSeekers except King's Island's stopped, stranding riders in the air. Two such incidents occurred in September at Knott's Berry Farm, one leaving riders stranded at the top for nearly four hours. The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration ordered the ride shut down indefinitely on September 19, pending investigation of the length of time riders were stranded and the causes of the incidents. On September 21, Cedar Fair announced the closure of all other WindSeekers, until the conclusion of an internal review.
An evacuation system was installed on Knott's Berry Farm's Windseeker. Designed by the ride's manufacturer, Mondial, it includes a metal cage that mechanically ascends the ride's shaft if riders are stranded in the air. An employee should travel in the cage until it rises and completely encloses up to four seats, then remove riders from their seats and take them down. The system will also be installed on all other Windseekers.
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