Incidents at independent amusement parks

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This is a summary of notable incidents that have taken place at various independently owned amusement parks, water parks or theme parks. 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.

The term incidents refers to major accidents, injuries, deaths and significant crimes. While these incidents are required to be reported to regulatory authorities for investigation, attraction-related incidents usually fall into one of the following categories:

  • Negligence on the part of the park, either by ride operator or maintenance.
  • 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.
  • Act of God or a generic accident (e.g. slipping and falling) that is not a direct result of an action on anyone's part.


Action Park[edit]

Main article: Action Park
  • On July 8, 1980, a 19-year-old park employee was riding the Alpine Slide when his car jumped the track and his head struck a rock, killing him.[1]
  • On July 24, 1982, a 15-year-old boy drowned in the Tidal Wave Pool.[1][2]
  • On August 1, 1982, a 27-year-old man from Long Island got out of his tipped kayak on the Kayak Experience to right it. While doing so, he stepped on a grate that was either in contact with, or came too close to, a section of live wiring for the underwater fans that somehow became exposed and he suffered a severe electric shock, which sent him into cardiac arrest. Several other members of his family nearby were also injured. He was taken to a hospital in nearby Warwick, New York where he died later of the shock-induced cardiac arrest.[1][3] The park at first disputed that the electric current caused his death, saying there were no burns on his body, but the coroner responded that burns generally do not occur in a water-based electrocution.[3] The ride was drained and closed for the investigation. Accounts differed as to the extent of the exposed wiring: the park said it was "just a nick," while others said it was closer to 8 inches (20 cm). The state's Labor Department found that the fan was properly maintained and installed and cleared the park of wrongdoing; however it also said that the current had the possibility to cause bodily harm under certain circumstances.[1] While the park said it was vindicated, it never reopened the ride, saying that people would be afraid to go on it afterwards.[3]
  • In 1984, a fatal heart attack suffered by one visitor was unofficially believed to have been triggered by the shock of the cold water in the pool beneath the Tarzan Swing. The water on the ride and in that swimming area was 50-60 °F (10-16 °C) while other water areas were in the 70-80 °F (21-27 °C) range more typical of swimming pools. The Tarzan Swing and the Cannonball ride in this area were operated by spring water.[3]
  • On August 27 of that year, a 20-year-old from Brooklyn drowned in the Tidal Wave Pool.[4]
  • On July 19, 1987, an 18-year-old drowned in the Tidal Wave Pool.[1]

Blackpool Pleasure Beach[edit]

Space Invader 2[edit]

  • On July 21, 2000, an 11-year-old boy died from head and body injuries after falling out of the carriage during the ride. The victim had reportedly fallen out of his cart because he had unfastened his seatbelt during the ride.[5]

Coney Island[edit]

Main article: Coney Island

Polar Express[edit]

  • On August 5, 2007, a restraining lap bar broke causing an unidentified 15-year-old girl to fall out of her seat and into the center of the ride where she was briefly knocked unconscious. The ride was running in reverse at the time. The victim was taken to the hospital with head and leg injuries, and complaining of neck and back pain.[6]

Coney Island Cyclone[edit]

Main article: Coney Island Cyclone
  • On May 26, 1985, a 29-year-old man was killed while riding the Cyclone. He stood up and struck his head on a crossbeam.
  • On August 23, 1988, a 26-year-old man was killed after falling from the Cyclone. The man was a maintenance worker and was the only passenger at the time, riding in the back seat of the train during his lunch break. Apparently, he eluded the safety bar and was seen standing up as the train began its descent down the first hill. He fell 30 feet and landed on a crossbeam of a lower section of track. He was killed instantly. The ride was closed following the incident, but was reopened a day later after safety inspectors concluded that the ride was safe.[7]
  • On July 31, 2007, a 53-year-old man broke several vertebrae while riding the Cyclone. He died four days later due to complications from surgery.[8][9]

Dutch Wonderland[edit]

Main article: Dutch Wonderland

Sky ride[edit]

  • On July 19, 2008, a 44-year-old woman from Ann Arbor, Michigan lost about a centimeter off the tip of her left index finger when it was caught in the safety bar.[10][11]

Expoland (Japan)[edit]

Main article: Expoland

Fujin Raijin II[edit]

  • On May 5, 2007, a 19-year-old from Higashiomi, Shiga was killed and nineteen other guests were injured when the Fujin Raijin II derailed at Expoland in Suita, Osaka. An investigation revealed that the ride derailed due to a broken axle. None of the ride vehicle's axles had been replaced for fifteen years.[12] Following this accident, similar coasters at other Japanese parks were voluntarily shut down and inspected to see if they could have the same axle flaw.[13] Expoland was cited by authorities for faulty maintenance when similar axle cracks were found on a second train a month later.[14] On July 15, 2008, three former Expoland employees—the director and administrative manager, the head of facility and business department, and the head of the technical division—agreed with the allegation of professional negligence and violating Building Standards Law. They admitted to purposefully postponing the coaster's regular inspection, even though a visible crack was noticed months earlier, as well as submitting a false inspection report.[15]

Hersheypark[edit]

Main article: Hersheypark
  • In 2006, of the 1.4 million visitors to the park, 55 people were injured at Hersheypark.[16]

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari[edit]

Fellner's The Raven[edit]

  • On May 31, 2003, Tamar Fellner, a 32 year-old from New York City, New York died after falling out of The Raven roller coaster. The victim was visiting the park to attend "Stark Raven Mad 2003", an event hosting roller coaster enthusiasts from around the country. At approximately 8:00 pm, the victim and her fiancé boarded The Raven in the last row of the train. Following a safety check of her lap bar and seat belt by a ride operator, the train left the station. Multiple witnesses reported that they saw her "virtually standing up" during the ride's initial and subsequent drops. During the ride's 69 feet (21 m) drop, also called the fifth drop, she was ejected from the car and onto the tracks. When the train returned to the station, the victim's fiancé, ride operators, and a passenger who was a doctor ran back along the tracks, at which point they found her lying under the structure of the roller coaster at the fifth drop. The doctor, aided by park medical personnel, began CPR until an ambulance arrived. The victim was pronounced dead en route to the hospital.[17]
An investigation following the accident showed that the safety restraints were working properly and that there were no mechanical deficiencies on the roller coaster. Additionally, Fellner's seatbelt was found undone when the train returned to the station. [18] A subsequent 2005 lawsuit filed by the family against Holiday World and the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, the manufacturer of the coaster train, was settled out of court in 2007. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.[19][20]

Lawnmowing accident[edit]

  • On May 27, 2006, a 20-year-old male park employee from Birdseye, Indiana died after being pinned under the lawn mower he was using. The man was a supervisor for the park's grounds department. The employee was working alone, mowing an area with some inclines outside the east side of the park when the incident occurred, though the park refused to speculate on exactly what might have happened. The man was found by another employee, who was then able to help lift the lawn mower off the victim with the help of other employees. Park emergency medical technicians and Spencer County EMS summoned a medical helicopter from St. Mary's Hospital and Medical Center in Evansville, Indiana, but the employee was pronounced dead prior to its arrival.[21][22]

The Wave[edit]

  • On July 4, 2007, at 11:00 a.m., a 29 year-old female from Fort Wayne, Indiana died after collapsing near the edge of The Wave, falling face-down into two inches of water. Lifeguards immediately responded and pulled her out, then attempted to revive her with help from park medical personnel. Resuscitation attempts continued as the victim was transported by ambulance to Jasper Memorial Hospital, where she died. An autopsy determined the cause of death to be congestive heart failure.[23]

Bahari River[edit]

  • On June 20, 2009, a filter pump on Bahari River malfunctioned, sending twenty-four guests and employees to the hospital. At 6:25 pm, the pump, which was turned off at the time, was turned back on. The pump surged, forcing a stronger than usual concentration of liquid bleach and hydrochloric acid into the water. Twenty-four people, including park staff and medical personnel, complained of troubled breathing and nausea. They were given oxygen at the park before being transported to Jasper Memorial Hospital for treatment. All were treated and released that evening. It was later determined that an interlock system designed to prevent chemical feeders from pumping chemicals into the water when the pump was turned off had malfunctioned.[24]

Kennywood[edit]

Main article: Kennywood

King Kahuna[edit]

  • On July 6, 2008, twenty riders were stranded upside down for ten minutes when the King Kahuna ride malfunctioned and unexpectedly stopped for an undetermined reason.[25] One of the riders sued Kennywood for negligence, claiming that the ride caused spinal damage. On March 26, 2013, a jury ruled that the plaintiff had a pre-existing spinal condition, and that any injury she suffered was not due to the ride.[26]

Thunderbolt[edit]

  • In 1968, a 15-year-old boy from Greensburg, Pennsylvania, fell to his death after standing up on the ride.
  • In 1999, there was an accident on the Thunderbolt when operators failed to brake an incoming train, which collided with the train being loaded. Thirty people were injured in the crash. After the accident, the headlights on the cars were partially removed because the electrical system did not hold up well against the vibration of the cars.

The Whip[edit]

  • On May 31, 2002, a 29-year-old female guest from Monroeville, Pennsylvania was killed when the roof of The Whip collapsed during a microburst. On July 20, 2007, a trial jury awarded the victim's family US$1.21 million.

Kentucky Kingdom[edit]

Main article: Kentucky Kingdom

Starchaser[edit]

  • On July 26, 1994 (park operating as Kentucky Kingdom), five unidentified riders were injured when two cars collided in an incident that inspectors said was due to operator error. After the accident, the park filed suit against Louisville, Kentucky television station WHAS-TV for reporting on the accident in a misleading and malicious manner. The station had inaccurately reported that the ride malfunctioned, was dangerous, and that the park had removed a "key component" of the ride. The station lost the lawsuit and was ordered to pay US$3 million to the park.[27]

Superman Tower of Power[edit]

On July 13, 2007, the victim's family filed a lawsuit for unspecified damages, claiming that the park did not properly maintain the ride.[34] On November 29, 2007, a judge in the Jefferson Circuit Court said that Six Flags could dismantle the ride beginning February 1, 2008. As of December 1, 2007, the ride's cable was still in storage awaiting lab tests.[35] On May 30, 2008, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture released their report on the accident, concluding that the accident was due to a faulty cable, as well as poor operator training in that if the ride operators had acted to shut down the ride in a timely manner, guests would only have suffered minor cuts. The report also stated that the park was fined $1,000 for not properly maintaining the ride.[36] On November 21, 2008, a settlement to "provide lifetime care" was reached between Kentucky Kingdom and the victim's family.[37]

Knoebels[edit]

Main article: Knoebels

Scenic Skyway[edit]

  • On June 13, 2003, a man was seriously injured in a 30-foot (9.1 m) fall from the Scenic Skyway chairlift ride at Knoebels Amusement Park. The man was a member of a group home for mentally disabled people and was riding alone. He was airlifted to a local hospital and recovered. The ride had opened just two weeks prior to the accident. Inspectors found no problems with the ride.[38]

Speed Slide[edit]

  • On March 2, 1999, an attorney representing two girls who sustained injuries while riding a water slide at a Pennsylvania amusement park discovered a history of complaints of injuries made by riders after they had ridden the same ride. Fifteen injuries had been reported to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Ride and Measurement Standards in recent years, including six reports of injuries to riders' genital areas. The Speed Slide, also known as the Super Slide, is a 40-foot (12 m) vertical drop water slide attraction. The tort lawsuit filed sought $9,200 in medical costs and at least $50,000 in damages on behalf of one girl, age 11. The suit also sought $5,300 in medical costs and at least $100,000 in damages on behalf of the other girl, age 12. The park was charged with negligence, failure to monitor the amount of force of the water and its effect on riders, failure to fix defects, and failure to provide adequate warnings to riders.[39]

Krug Park[edit]

Roller coaster[edit]

  • On July 24, 1930, sometime after 6:00 p.m., the park's Big Dipper roller coaster crashed when a bolt worked itself loose. Four cars containing children and teenagers plunged to the ground. Four people were killed and 17 injured.[40][41][42][43]

Lagoon Amusement Park[edit]

Main article: Lagoon Amusement Park

Roller Coaster[edit]

  • In 1934, Henry Howe, 20, of Ogden, Utah fell to his death as he attempted to stand up when the train was on its highest hill. Henry hit a number of support trestles on the way down.
  • In 1946, James Young Hess was struck by the train as he was working on scaffolding on the ride. Hess suffered skull, leg and arm fractures, as well as internal injuries, and died at a Salt Lake hospital on September 1, 1946.
  • In 1989, a 13-year-old girl stood up and fell 35 feet to her death. She was pronounced dead at the scene.[44]

Puff The Little Fire Dragon[edit]

  • In 1989, a young boy attempted to exit the vehicle near the end of the ride. He was run over and killed by an oncoming train. [45]

Lake Winnepesaukah[edit]

Main article: Lake Winnepesaukah
  • On April 19, 2003, a crowd disturbance described as a "near-riot" involving 500 to 700 youths took place outside the park in Rossville, Georgia after management decided to close the park 90 minutes early. Catoosa County Sheriff Phil Summers claimed the incident was caused by parents leaving their children unattended at the park with little or no money, thus unable to participate in the park's activities. When sporadic fighting began in the crowd, the decision was made to close the park early, which escalated the fighting. Law enforcement agencies from Georgia and Tennessee were dispatched to the scene when the crowd began to disrupt traffic on roads surrounding the park. After the incident, the park instituted a new policy of requiring visitors under 21 years of age to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Visitors are also required to purchase some sort of admission.[46]

Luna Park Sydney[edit]

Main article: Luna Park Sydney

Ghost Train[edit]

Further information: 1979 Sydney Ghost Train fire

Nickelodeon Universe[edit]

Main article: Nickelodeon Universe

Tak Attack[edit]

Main article: Tak Attack
  • In April 1998, a dime-sized plastic nut came loose on the The Mighty Axe (now called Tak Attack), causing the ride to come to a stop with riders stuck upside down at the very top. The loose nut had interrupted the power to the seating platform. The five riders were stuck for about an hour before park mechanics were able to get them down.[47]

Log Chute[edit]

Main article: Log Chute
  • On Saturday, August 1, 1998, a 12-year-old boy fell off the log chute. When the boat neared the top of the chute, the boy began to panic and reached outside of the log to grab a railing. The ride operator attempted to stop the ride, but the log had already begun its descent down the major drop. Losing his grip, he fell off the chute, falling onto the landscaping rocks. The boy died from his injuries. O.D. Hopkins Associates, Inc., the manufacturer of the ride, inspected it and found it was in proper working order. It was Camp Snoopy's first fatal accident.[48]
  • On November 4, 2007, a conveyor belt on the log chute malfunctioned, causing one log to crash into the other. However, there were only minor injuries. The ride was inspected and repaired, and then reopened on November 15, 2007.[49]

Danny Phantom Ghost Zone[edit]

  • On Saturday, August 15, 1998, an 8-year-old girl died of a heart attack after she rode the Screaming Yellow Eagle (now known as Danny Phantom Ghost Zone), a rotating platform ride. She had a history of heart problems for five years before her death. The ride was working properly.[50]

Backyardigans Swing-Along[edit]

  • On May 14, 2008, four people were slightly hurt, suffering minor leg injuries when the Backyardigans Swing Along malfunctioned, apparently spinning faster than normal. The ride was shut down when it became apparent that it was malfunctioning and remained closed until maintenance crews found and fixed the problem.[51][52] On May 18, 2008, the ride was inspected and fixed. It reopened on May 19, 2008.[citation needed]

Pepsi Orange Streak[edit]

Main article: Pepsi Orange Streak
  • In October 2008, an unidentified autistic boy climbed over a fence onto the catwalk of the Pepsi Orange Streak at the point where it enters the cave of the log chute. An employee was able to get to him before the roller coaster released another train. No injuries were reported.

Fairly Odd Coaster[edit]

Main article: Fairly Odd Coaster
  • On January 27, 2009, one of the coaster cars did not make it over the last hill on the Fairly Odd Coaster and stalled. No one was hurt, and once the lap bars were unlatched, the riders in the stalled car were let off. The other two cars on the circuit were stopped safely by the computer's actuation of the ride's air brakes. The ride's air brakes operating make a noise like a gunshot, which caused a small panic. The ride was running normally the next day.

Old Indiana Fun Park[edit]

Main article: Old Indiana Fun Park
  • On August 11, 1996, a 4-year-old girl was paralyzed from the chest down, and her 57-year-old grandmother was killed after the miniature train ride at the Old Indiana Fun Park derailed and overturned as it approached a curve. The two victims were crushed under the weight of the cars. An investigation showed that the train was traveling much faster than its design speed of 12 miles per hour (19 km/h).[53]

Overseas Chinese Town East[edit]

Space Journey[edit]

  • On June 29, 2010, 6 people were killed and 10 were injured when a Space Shuttle-simulator ride called Space Journey fell to the ground in Shenzhen, China. According to eyewitnesses, one of the ride's 12 cabins came loose in an explosion while spinning and collided with other cabins. Some cabins dropped 50 feet (15 m) and ejected passengers. Another eyewitness claimed that a power shortage caused the accident.[54]

Phantasialand (Germany)[edit]

Main article: Phantasialand

Black Mamba[edit]

  • On May 14, 2011, a 48-year-old man died while riding Black Mamba, an inverted roller coaster. According to German safety inspectors, the roller coaster and all safety features were sound and passed extensive testings by the TÜV. Autopsy showed that the death was caused by a heart attack. The man rode the ride despite being diagnosed with diabetes some weeks before.[55]

Playland[edit]

Main article: Playland (New York)

Dragon Coaster[edit]

  • In 1988, an 8-year-old girl choked to death while chewing gum on the ride.[56]

Mind Scrambler[edit]

  • On June 29, 2007, a 21-year-old female park employee from White Plains, New York was killed[57] when the ride was started by a second employee while the victim was still assisting guests with their safety restraints. Park officials stated that a safety precaution (put in place after the 2004 Mind Scrambler incident) was not followed.[58] A report issued by the State's Labor Department on August 24, 2007 stated that the ride operators were running the ride improperly. The ride owner was cited for providing inadequate training. Due to this incident, the Mind Scrambler was closed.[56][59]

The Whip[edit]

  • In August 18, 1938, a 19-year-old man was killed when thrown off of the ride.[60]

Ye Old Mill[edit]

  • On August 3, 2005, a 7-year-old boy from Norwalk, Connecticut died of blunt force trauma to the head after he climbed out of a boat on the Ye Old Mill ride, where he became trapped underwater by a conveyor belt.[57] The victim's family sued the county that owned Playland, and on March 24, 2009, the defendants were ordered to pay US$1.25 million, as well as create a scholarship in the victim's name. The scholarship is awarded annually to the Playland employee who exhibits excellence in safety and customer service.[56][61]

Guest altercations[edit]

  • On July 4, 2006, a 43-year-old woman from Queens, New York drowned after walking into a 40-foot-deep man-made lake that is off-limits to swimmers. An autopsy showed the victim had a blood alcohol level well over the legal limit.[56]

Siam Park (Thailand)[edit]

Main article: Siam Park City

Flume ride[edit]

  • On October 23, 2007, one woman was killed and five others injured when the ride vehicle fell 20 metres (66 ft) to the ground from the top of the lift hill. Park management said that there was a drop in electric power, causing a water pump to fail to control sufficient water level on the ride.[62]

Super Spiral[edit]

  • On January 12, 2008, 28 children, ages 10 to 13, were injured when they fell two meters to the ground after the final sections of the Super Spiral water slide collapsed.[63]

Storybook Land[edit]

Big Truck Ride[edit]

  • On May 8, 2011, the ride derailed as it came up on the first turn, causing cars to go off the track and fall two and a half feet to the ground, injuring two adults and one child. The cause was determined to be a internal component. Management decided to remove the ride, explaining, "We simply can't be sure about the precise cause of the failure and will not risk the safety of our patrons when we cannot be 100% certain that the ride can be made completely safe." It was replaced with an attraction called Workzone, which opened in the summer of 2014.[64]

Splash Adventure[edit]

Main article: Splash Adventure
  • In 1999, when the park was called Visionland, five people were injured when a raft overturned.[65]
  • In 2001, when the park was called Visionland, a boat filled with park employees overturned when the employees rocked the boat. No one was injured.[65]
  • In August 2009, when the park was called Alabama Adventure, a family of three and one other park visitor were injured when the ride's boat capsized. Witnesses said that the family's boat hit an empty boat and was overturned. The family were underwater for approximately 20 seconds.[65]
  • In June 2011, when the park was called Alabama Adventure, a fight that broke out between several youths and spread throughout the park. One guest described it as a borderline riot. The Bessemer Police were called to the park and no more guests were allowed into the park. The incident was blamed on a "$10 before 10AM" promotional event that was mishandled by park staff.[66]

Water Park of America[edit]

Main article: Water Park of America
  • On May 22, 2006, a 39-year-old man from Lakeville, Minnesota suffered a bruised spinal cord while attempting to ride the FlowRider wave ride on a boogie board. As a result, the victim had two titanium screws and a plate inserted into his neck to stabilize vertebrae and relieve pressure on his spinal cord. Doctor reports stated that the victim was almost paralyzed, but regained some movement in his limbs shortly after surgery.[67]

Water Works Park[edit]

  • On August 5, 2007, an unidentified 10-year-old girl suffered severe internal injuries while riding the speed slide at the Denton, Texas park. The accident report filed by the on-duty lifeguards stated that the injuries were caused by the victim's failure to follow park rules, namely keeping her legs crossed at the ankles, while riding.[68] The park rule regarding crossing ankles on a water slide is common in the industry, and is one method (along with wearing a wet suit) used to prevent "straddle injuries."[69]

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