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
Jimmy Neutron Brainwasher
- The first ride accident in the park's history was August 23, 2003, when the Jimmy Neutron Brainwasher ride pods fell off. Three children were sent to hospital as a precautionary measure.
- An 18-year-old diver from Scarborough, Ontario drowned in a slow whirlpool effect in the pond below the waterfall on Victoria Day weekend in 1988. The victim had been swimming for 10 minutes, when he went closer to the falls to retrieve a frisbee. His brother rushed to help him, but was pulled under several times. Resuscitation efforts by security staff failed. In an inquest, Wonderland's director of engineering denied the existence of an undertow. A nearby life ring had been tied to a tree using three knots and was only equipped with 6 metres (20 feet) of rope, not enough to reach the middle of the pool. One high diver, who had worked at the park for seven years, claims to have told his supervisor of the undertow during the previous season. That diver was concerned about landing someone, as he claimed unauthorized swimmers were a frequent occurrence at that time. The area was listed as barricaded in an early report, but later reports contradicted that. The witness claimed that there were 30 to 40 bathers 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 on one occasion. Not only was there no statement about pool dangers on record, but the supervisor for the previous three years denied that anyone in their department had expressed concern. Security and extra signs were posted after the incident. Spokespeople pointed out that the victim shouldn't have been throwing frisbees in the area and suggested that the witness shouldn't have continued to work for the park in the previous season if they had an unaddressed concern.
- On March 17, 2007, seven employees received minor injuries during a pre-season test run of the roller coaster now called Nighthawk (but at the time called BORG Assimilator). The roller coaster train, containing 16 Carowinds employees at the time, stopped at the base of the vertical loop after the ride's emergency brakes engaged (approximately eight feet above the ground). An inspection discovered that the ride malfunctioned when a ride operator accidentally pushed the button controlling the seat positions while the ride was in motion. That button has been fixed to operate only while the ride is stopped.
- On April 5, 1999, a train collided with another, leaving seven people injured. Sensors on the ride were then replaced, opening the ride again.
Cedar Creek Mine Ride
- On May 24, 1984, a five-year-old boy suffered a skull fracture after falling from the front seat while the train descended the 30-foot drop.
- On July 13, 2013, a man from Columbus, Ohio was found unresponsive on GateKeeper after its train returned to the ride's station. He was given CPR and was taken to a local hospital then relocated to a hospital closer to his home. Park spokesmam, Bryan Edwards said, "the man appears to have survived a medical condition that was unrelated to the ride." The ride reopened about 6 hours later after an inspection determined the ride was functioning normally.
- On May 26, 2007, one roller coaster train collided with another at about 10 mph (16 km/h), causing minor damage to both trains and minor injuries to at least three passengers. Two people were treated at the scene, while a third person had an asthma attack and was taken to a local hospital. No serious injuries were reported, and the ride returned to service in single-train operation the next day. The park said that the accident was due to early morning rain storms leaving excessive moisture on the track.
Shoot the Rapids
- On July 19, 2013, seven riders were injured after a boat rolled back down the ride's lift hill. Six of the injured were cleared by park medical staff, while a seventh was transported to an area hospital for further examination and later released. Park officials announced the ride would be closed pending an investigation.
- On May 18, 1985, ten people were stranded on Space Spiral for seven hours. The cab was raised to the top while the ride was stuck. The stranded passengers were lead by the operator by taking the stairs down to the ground on the inside of the tower. No injuries were reported.
Snake River Falls
- On Wednesday, July 3, 2013, a boat on Snake River Falls jumped the track after the drop, dislodging the boat. No injuries were reported. Cedar Point stated the incident was caused by a low water level throughout the ride, but did not state why the ride remained running despite the low water.
Top Thrill Dragster
- On July 13, 2004, four people were injured after they were struck from pieces of metal and debris that sheared off the roller coaster's launch cable during the ride's launch sequence. The four guests were treated at the park's first aid station; two of those guests had further treatments addressed at Firelands Regional Medical Center.
- On January 14, 2002, one of VertiGo's 265-foot-tall steel towers collapsed to the ground. The park was closed for the season, and no one was injured. The bottom 65-foot section of the tower remained intact. The cause of the collapse is still not known. Cedar Fair announced on March 11, 2002 that they would remove the VertiGo rides from both Cedar Point and Knott's Berry Farm. Park officials stated that guests would be less likely to ride VertiGo after the collapse, thus dismantling the ride would be the best option.
White Water Landing
- On July 20, 2002, two boats were stuck at the bottom of the drop. When one boat came down the hill, it collided with two other boats. All six people were sent to a local hospital and were soon released. The victims only suffered minor injuries. The ride reopened the next day after an investigation.
- On May 16, 2008, one of the cars on WildCat rolled backward down a hill, colliding with another car. Ten people suffered 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 car in the ride's station. Seven people suffered bumps and bruises, with four of these treated at the on-site first aid station, and three others taken to Firelands Regional Medical Center as a precautionary action.
California's Great America
Drop Tower: Scream Zone
- In August 1999, a 12-year-old mentally disabled boy fell from the tower and died. The victim's 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 a dangling leg of a woman riding Top Gun (now called Flight Deck). The man reportedly only knew Spanish, and could not read the park's warning signs and entered a fenced in off-limits area under the ride to retrieve his hat. The passenger suffered a broken 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 retrieved him, and they and EMTs attempted to resuscitate him. The victim was pronounced dead at the hospital.
- In 1989, two boys intentionally jumped out of the Loggers' Run log flume ride. One was killed and the other fell safely onto an emergency platform.
- On March 29, 1980, a 14-year-old boy was killed and eight others injured when two roller coaster trains collided. The park's owners were charged with not reporting a possible defect in the ride's braking system. Marriott Corporation settled the civil penalty action brought by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission with a US$70,000 payment. The Commission also found that the ride had at least 11 other incidents between 1976 and 1979, resulting in an unreported and unknown number of injuries.
Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom
- On July 21, 1990, two cars on Thunderhawk collided at the bottom of the lift hill. 17 people were taken to local hospitals to receive treatment for minor injuries. It is unknown what caused the accident, as certified ride operators tested the ride after the accident and found nothing mechanically or physically wrong with it, however it is said that operator error may have caused the accident. The ride was closed immediately after the accident happened and re-opened the next day, operating normally ever since.
Baywatch Water Show
- On August 17, 1996, 22 people were injured during a Baywatch-themed water ski stunt show at SeaWorld of Ohio. The boat driver lost control after the boat allegedly experienced mechanical failure. The boat crashed five rows deep into the show's stadium resulting in 17 people being taken to area hospitals and five more treated on the scene. During the accident investigation, the owner of the boat, World Entertainment Services, Inc., of Winter Park, Florida, was charged with three marine regulation violations unrelated to the accident.
Volcano, The Blast Coaster
- On June 23, 2006, an unidentified man suffered a cut leg from flying debris during this roller coaster's launch. An investigation showed that a loose bolt became lodged in the LIM magnets used to launch the train.
- On August 23, 1999, a 20-year-old man from Long Island, NY became free of his restraints while on this roller coaster and fell to his death. An investigation showed that the ride restraints were working properly and were still secured when the train returned to the station. Less than one month later, a 13-year-old boy, concerned that he was not properly fastened into his restraints, intentionally slipped out of them as the train was ascending the lift hill. He jumped onto the adjacent maintenance catwalk and escaped serious injury.
- On July 20, 2012, a 48-year-old woman from Pitt County, North Carolina, was found unresponsive on Dominator after its train returned to the ride's unloading station. An incident report described that she had a "seizure-like episode" after riding the roller coaster. The woman was taken to a hospital, where she died. Autopsy results revealed that she had a brain aneurysm. A Hanover County, Virginia, inspector found no operational problems with Dominator. The ride reopened on July 23, 2012, after it passed two safety inspections.
Lion Country Safari
- On July 24, 1976, a 20-year-old park employee was mauled by a lion and died. The employee's 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 that contained approximately 50 wild lions. At the time of the incident, park officials were unable to determine why the employee left the protection of his vehicle.
- On May 26, 1982, a 34-year-old park employee was attacked by a lion. The employee was cleaning out part of the lion habitat when he was attacked. After climbing to the safety of a building rooftop, the employee was rescued and treated for a punctured trachea and body cuts.
- On June 9, 1991, a 32-year-old woman from Toledo, Ohio, died when she fell out of the ride. An investigation revealed that the woman had been severely intoxicated (with a blood-alcohol level of 0.30%) and had failed to follow proper safety procedures prior to launch.
- On June 9, 1991, a park employee and a guest were killed when they were electrocuted while trying to help a third man who had fallen into a pond. Initially, the cause for electrocution was a mystery, but was later discovered to have been caused by an underwater circulation pump.
Son of Beast
- On July 9, 2006, a vertical support timber known as a bent leg cracked on the Son of Beast roller coaster leading to two additional bent leg failures. Together these caused a slight dip in the track creating a "pothole" effect that injured 27 riders. Many of the injuries reported involved the neck and chest. Of those injured, as many as 17 people were released from hospitals within five hours of the accident. Others were admitted and kept overnight. None of the injuries were life-threatening, however. The ride reopened on July 4, 2007 nearly a year after the accident without its trademark loop among other changes. The removal of the loop allowed for lighter trains and, according to park officials, a smoother ride.
- On June 16, 2009, a 39-year-old woman reported a head injury suffered from riding Son of Beast on May 31, 2009, though it wasn't reported to Kings Island until two weeks later. The woman who was injured had a damaged blood vessel discovered in a CAT scan. She was transferred to another hospital and admitted to an intensive care unit for an overnight stay. She was released the following day on June 17, 2009. The park shut down the attraction to conduct a state investigation which later found the ride had no irregularities. The ride would remain closed until 2012 when it was announced it would be demolished.
- On August 7, 2009, a man from Toledo, Ohio appeared to be having breathing trouble after the train came back into the station. The man had a pre-existing heart condition and was still recovering from a severe bout with the flu and a respiratory infection. Park medics were called, and the man was taken to Bethesda North Hospital. Kings Island was informed the following evening that the man had died.
Knott's Berry Farm
- On December 30, 2012, the left rear wheel fell off of the Butterfield Stagecoach, causing it to tip over and fall on its side on the trail located near the Ferris Wheel attraction in Camp Snoopy. There were fourteen passengers aboard. “Three guests were transported to a local hospital for minor injuries," Knott's officials said in a statement. Parts of Camp Snoopy and several other attractions were shut down for several hours while personnel attempted to move the stagecoach out of view of guests. Knott's officials also said: "The ride will be closed until further notice. Guest safety is Knott’s number one priority.”
- On September 1, 2001, a 20-year-old woman died one day after riding Montezooma's Revenge. The victim suffered a ruptured middle cerebral artery, and an autopsy revealed a pre-existing condition. The ride was closed for several days while an investigation was conducted. Though state investigators concluded that the ride did not contribute to her death, a wrongful death lawsuit was later filed by her family in 2002, which was dismissed in 2006.
- On September 21, 2001, a 40-year-old woman was killed after she fell out of the attraction when the boat descended the drop. Officials with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health stated that the victim somehow came out of the ride's restraint system, falling into a pool at the base of the structure. The victim's seat belt and lap bar were closed and locked when the boat returned to the station after the accident. The coroner's stated cause of death was "multiple blunt force trauma".
- On October 7, 2010, ten people received minor injuries when the two Pony Express trains collided in the station of the ride. The launch system failed to power the first train over the first hill causing it to roll back into the station and collide with the second train. Investigations following the accident showed that paint fouled the brakes, which made them function improperly.
- On September 16, 2009, two guests were injured when a cable on this roller coaster snapped. The 12-year-old victim had lacerations on his leg, while the adult victim complained of back injuries.
- On June 30, 2000, a 38-year old woman fell out of the ride, suffering critical injuries, but surviving. It was noted that the woman turned around to take pictures of her relatives in the cars behind her.
- On July 30, 2001, the upper rotating portion of the Chaos 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 suffered severe damage. Of the thirty-three people on the ride, thirty-one were taken to area hospitals, most with minor injuries. The last two passengers were removed from their vehicle nine hours after the incident. An investigation put the blame on both poor maintenance which allowed bolts to loosen, twist, and break, and on structural fatigue fractures that were discovered afterward.
- On May 21, 2006, the back car of one of the trains of the roller coaster Wild Thing became disconnected from the rest of the train as it was nearing the station and beginning to brake at the end of the ride. A mounting bracket supporting brakes on the track had malfunctioned, damaging the rear axle of the 5th car (of 6 total). This caused the 6th car to break free from the train, and tip over into a fence adjacent to the roller coaster, injuring 18 people. Fourteen of these were taken to nearby St. Francis Medical Center, but all injuries were minor and all were treated and released. The Wild Thing reopened on June 1 after a number of inspections and tests cleared it as safe to ride again.
Worlds of Fun
- On July 17, 1999, two cars of a seven-car train on this roller coaster derailed, stranding 18 people. Two people were immediately taken to the hospital, with six others being sent to the hospital later. None of the injuries were life-threatening. During a subsequent investigation, it was determined that the cars derailed due to severe internal metal fatigue in a metal support post.
- On March 31, 1990, 35 people were injured when two roller coaster trains collided just short of the loading platform. The control system malfunctioned, causing the system to be unable to control two trains at once. The ride reopened running a single train until the control system was fixed to handle two trains.
- On June 30, 1995, a 14-year-old girl was killed when she fell about 25 feet (7.6 m) from the coaster. The park owner and ride manufacturer claimed she was switching seats when the accident occurred, though this was disputed by her family. The ride was temporarily shut down pending the results of an investigation of its safety features, which resulted in new lapbars being installed. The park's owners at the time, Hunt-Midwest, and the ride's builder, Dinn Corporation, settled with the victim's family in the amount of $200,000.
During the 2012 season, all of the WindSeekers except Kings Island's experienced incidents in which the ride stopped, stranding riders in the air. Two such incidents occurred in September at Knott's Berry Farm, in one case leaving riders stranded at the top of the ride for nearly four hours, prompting the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration to order the ride shut down indefinitely on September 19 pending investigation of both the length of time riders were stranded and the actual causes of the incidents. Two days later on September 21, Cedar Fair announced the closure of all other WindSeekers to conduct an internal review. The company said that until the review concludes, none of the rides would operate again.
An evacuation system was installed on Knott's Berry Farm's Windseeker ride. The new system, designed by the ride's manufacturer, Netherlands-based Mondial, includes a metal cage that mechanically ascends the ride's shaft in the event that riders are stranded in the air, said Jennifer Blazey, a spokeswoman for Knott's. An employee would travel in the cage until it rises and completely encloses up to four seats; the riders would be removed from their seats and taken down. The evacuation system will also be installed at Cedar Fair's Windseeker rides elsewhere.
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