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 11 May 2003, with the park packed with people for Mother's Day, two guests were involved in a fight at the front gates of the park, which led to a shooting death. It was thought to have followed a prior dispute involving the two over a drug exchange, according to York Regional Police. The park has since added metal detectors at the front gate, with additional security.
- 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 (6 meters) above ground when the ride's safety features shut the ride down automatically when an undetermined glitch occurred.
- On March 17, 2007, seven park employees riding in a test run of BORG Assimilator (later renamed Nighthawk) received minor injuries when the seats changed position during the ride. The ride operator accidentally pressed a button after the train left the station that unlocked the pins responsible for keeping the seats in a fixed position. The ride was later modified to disable the button while trains are in motion.
- On June 9, 2016, a transformer exploded near the park which caused a power cut to the park. Riders were stranded on various rides, including 17 on WindSeeker and an unspecified number on the Intimidator roller coaster. This incident also caused Fury 325 to come to a halt, leaving some riders stranded in the middle of the ride, and others just out of the gate. No riders were injured, although some waited over an hour before they were evacuated by park personnel. The park was scheduled to open normally the following day, but with some affected rides closed.
- On April 5, 1999, two trains collided, injuring seven people.
The Flying Cobras
- On October 19, 2009, the Carolina Cobra failed to catch on one of the ride's lift hills with 8 passengers on board. The passengers were able to exit the ride, but one of the passengers was taken to the hospital with unknown reasons.
Cedar Creek Mine Ride
- On May 24, 1984, a 5-year-old boy fractured his skull after falling from the train's front seat during its 30-foot drop. This was before height restrictions at Cedar Point, so although the boy was too small to ride, the park did not know. The park added the 48 inch height restriction and thicker lap bars after the incident.
- On July 30, 1988, injuries were reported after an empty train was released from the station and collided with a train full of passengers stuck on the coasters second lift hill. Twelve people filed lawsuits against the park, eight of them passengers and four of them parents. On February 5, 1991, one of the plaintiffs was awarded $35,000 after the jury deliberated for about 4 hours. The victim suffered nerve, knee and back injuries.
- On July 13, 2013, a Columbus, Ohio man was found unresponsive on the GateKeeper train after it returned to the 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 condensation leaving the tracks too wet.
- On July 6, 2009, a guest complained of feeling faint after the ride. Raptor was immediately shut down as the guest was transported to a local hospital. The ride remained closed for the remainder of the day, reopening the next afternoon after a thorough inspection was completed. The guest was later released from the hospital.
- On June 21, 2015, a 37-year-old man injured his right leg when the gates in the ride's loading platform closed on him as he was boarding the ride. The incident resulted in a 4-inch-long gash (10 cm) on his lower-right leg, and he was taken to a nearby hospital where he received 11 stitches.
- On August 13, 2015, a 45-year-old man was killed by the roller coaster after going into the ride's restricted area to retrieve a dropped cellphone. He was struck in the back of the head by a passing train. Park emergency crews attempted to revive him, but was soon pronounced dead on scene. The ride was shut down after the incident and reopened the following day after passing inspections.
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 and was shut down for the remainder of the 2013 season. Cedar Point reopened the ride in May 2014 and then closed again in September 2015. During the 2015-16 off season, Shoot the Rapids was shut down permanently and dismantled due to maintenance issues.
- On July 28, 2014, a cable that caused the swinging of one of the carriages on the pendulum snapped, injuring two riders. One was treated on the scene and the other treated at a local hospital and later released. Skyhawk reopened on August 1, 2014.
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.
- 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.
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 August 7, 2016, a launch cable became detached on the ride. Two passengers were evaluated at the park's first aid station but were later released back into the park. The ride remained closed throughout the next day.
- In September 2017, a report with photos surfaced that the braking system on the launch side of the track may have been damaged, potentionally causing the ride to close for the season. Cedar Point did not acknowledge the incident and stated the closure was for maintenance reasons. The ride reopened a month later on October 20th, 2017.
- On January 14, 2002, 200 feet (60.9 meters) of one of VertiGo's 265-foot (80.7 meters) steel towers collapsed due to the removal of the ride vehicle as part of Cedar Point's preventative maintenance program. The vehicle was an important stabilizer of the towers and, as a result of the vehicle's removal, the towers were able to sway past the 8 foot (2.4m) sway allowance. 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 Spanish-speaking man was struck and killed by the dangling leg of a woman. As he could not read the park's English warning signs, he entered into the ride's restricted area 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, a 13-year-old boy was killed and eight other passengers were injured when two trains collided. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission charged the park 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 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 August 10, 2015, the coaster was evacuated after unexpectedly stopping on the lift hill. No injuries were reported.
Thunder Creek Mountain
- On May 16, 2004, a log vehicle was stopped at the top of the lift hill, with other logs backing up behind it. Four riders received minor injuries while trying to escape from the ride, and were taken to Lehigh Valley Hospital as a precaution.
- On July 21, 1990, two cars collided at the bottom of the lift hill. Seventeen people went to local hospitals for treatment of minor injuries. 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.
White Water Landing
- On May 27, 2016, several passengers boarded the White Water Landing ride. The ride operator was not paying attention and started the ride without putting the restraint bars down. As the raft ascended the lift hill, the onboard guests started to panic and started yelling at the ride operators. One of the passengers stood up, trying to get the ride operator's attention. Soon after this, one of the ride operators realized what was going on, and stopped the ride. The same ride operator jumped onto the catwalk, and closed the restraints through a panel. The ride went through the layout normally. No injuries were reported, but some guests were shaken up. The ride operated normally for the rest of the day.
- On June 16, 1994, a 14-year-old boy from Bronx, New York fatally drowned in the wave pool. His body was found overnight by a construction worker after the park's closing, and he was later pronounced dead. The incident occurred during a school field trip; investigations placed the blame on six adults from Intermediate School 166 in the Bronx, who were in charge of the field trip and had failed to verify who was able to swim before releasing the pupils into the water park. In addition, when Maracallo was reported as missing, an assistant principal failed to act accordingly. Blame was also placed on the Dorney Park staff and lifeguards for making little effort to find the missing child. In 2002, Maracallo's mother was awarded $10 million from Dorney Park and the New York City Department of Education after both were concluded negligent by a Bronx Supreme Court jury.
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, a train failed to climb a hill and rolled backwards. The back of a train partially derailed, but there were no injures. Due to this incident, the ride was closed.
- In July, 2000, (Operated as Six Flags Ohio) a 44-year-old woman from Milwaukee, Wisconsin was injured when she was hit by objects. She suffered a fractured skull and a broken nose. Park officials said people were throwing rocks at rides.
- 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 was pronounced dead. An autopsy discovered she had a brain aneurysm. The ride reopened on July 23, 2012, after passing two safety inspections.
- While performing a test run prior to the park opening on July 9, 2013, one of the Intimidator 305's trains became stuck near the top of the lift hill. The train was eventually brought down a week later, and the ride remained closed for more than two months. Kings Dominion later explained the closure through a statement released on their official Facebook page on August 28, 2013, which stated that a problem with the weight distribution on the gearbox caused a part to warp and fail. The replacement part had to be custom-built in another country, causing the extended closure. The ride eventually reopened on September 14, 2013.
- 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 4, 2017, a woman suffered major injuries and a concussion on the Tornado water slide after the raft she was riding in flipped over.
Volcano, The Blast Coaster
- On June 23, 2006, debris went flying during the coaster's launch which 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 May 13, 1983, a 17-year-old boy from Delaware, Ohio was attending a graduation party with his classmates when he fell about 200 feet to his death down the elevator shaft of the Eiffel Tower. He had climbed a large fence onto an emergency stairwell and then into the shaft for an unknown reason and was struck by the elevator's counterweight. He became tangled in the cables and fell when the elevator at the bottom started back up again.
- 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.
- On June 9, 1991, a severely intoxicated (BAC 0.30%) 32-year-old Toledo, Ohio woman fell 60 feet from the ride and died. An investigation discovered a design flaw in the restraints that allowed limp patrons to slide to the unoccupied seat next to their own.
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 15 to 20 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. The ranger had a history of violating park rules. Investigators believed the ranger left the vehicle to relieve himself.
- 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 taken to a hospital where he was treated for a punctured trachea and other cuts.
- 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. Investigators determined the pump lacked a ground fault circuit interruptor and fined Kings Island $23,500.
- On August 5, 1989, a 39-year-old musician was killed in the employee parking lot after being struck by lightning.
- In 1986, a 26-year-old man was critically injured after diving into a 2-foot-deep fountain. He was rushed to Bethesda North Hospital and died a week later.
Son of Beast
- On July 9, 2006, a vertical support timber cracked, leading to two more support beam 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 the 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 had a damaged blood vessel. She was transferred to another hospital's intensive care unit and released the next day. The ride was closed indefinitely, while a state investigation determined it had no irregularities. In 2012, Cedar Fair announced Son of Beast's permanent closure and was subsequently demolished. It was replaced by Banshee in 2014.
- On July 26, 2003, a 34-year-old woman suffered a heart attack while riding the coaster. She was rushed to Bethesda North Hospital and died the following day. A preliminary autopsy report found that she had an undiagnosed enlarged heart. It was speculated that the enlarged heart, as well as having high blood pressure, contributed to the heart attack.
Knott's Berry Farm
- In 1996, a 36-year-old woman fell from the ride and sustained several injuries, including a fractured rib and bruises. Although she later admitted she had stood up during the ride, she was still awarded $69,000.
- 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' view.
- In 1996, an employee was killed after being crushed between two of the ride's cars while trying to separate them.
- On January 27, 2001 an employee was trapped under a locomotive and his legs were seriously injured.
- In August 1999, five people sustained injuries while riding after they were struck by a piece of wood.
- 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 injuries sustained because of the 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 on the brake fins had impaired the braking system. The investigation also revealed that Knott's had no testing procedure for a failed launch and roll back.
- On December 30, 2016, the Sky Cabin stopped revolving and became stuck 125 ft (38.1 meters) above the base. The Orange County Fire Authority successfully rescued all 21 riders from the ride roughly 8 hours after the incident. No injuries were reported.
- On September 16, 2009, a launch cable snapped, lacerating a 12-year-old boy's leg and injuring his father's back.
- 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 29, 2017, passengers were trapped on Thunderhawk for 90 minutes. One train was in the station while the other left the station.
- 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 August 5, 2010, a chlorine leak from the water park sent 26 people to the hospital.
- On September 3, 2007, the ride experienced a fire in an electrical junction box. There were no injuries, and the ride reopened several days later after the problem was fixed and the ride successfully tested.
- On May 21, 2006, a mounting bracket in the track's braking system malfunctioned, damaging the rear axle of the fifth car in one of the trains which caused the sixth car to disconnect. It tipped over into an adjacent fence injuring 18 people. Fourteen were sent to nearby St. Francis Medical Center with minor injuries. The ride reopened on June 1, 2006, 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 the 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 boy was taken to a hospital after suffering a concussion and a bloody nose on the ride.
During the 2012 season, all of the WindSeekers except Kings 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.
- On June 2, 2012, 29 passengers were stranded on Cedar Point's WindSeeker for several hours when the gondola came to a complete stop approximately 150 ft. in the air.
- On July 28, 2013, 65 passengers were stuck on Carowinds' WindSeeker for over an hour, when a safety mechanism halted the ride.
- On April 11, 2015, 60 passengers were stuck on Carowinds' WindSeeker for approximately 15 minutes and 150 feet above ground when a safety mechanism halted the ride.
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