Incidents at Six Flags parks
The following is a summary of notable incidents at any of the amusement parks and water parks operated by Six Flags Entertainment Corporation. In some cases, these incidents occurred while the park was under different management or ownership.
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, 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 violate 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 safety instructions, or deliberate intent to violate park rules.
- Act of God or a generic accident (e.g., lightning strike, slipping and falling), that is not a direct result of an action on anybody's part.
- 1 La Ronde
- 2 Six Flags America
- 3 Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
- 4 Six Flags Fiesta Texas
- 5 Six Flags Great Adventure
- 6 Six Flags Great America
- 7 Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom
- 8 Six Flags Magic Mountain
- 9 Six Flags New England
- 10 Six Flags New Orleans
- 11 Six Flags Over Georgia
- 12 Six Flags Over Texas
- 13 Six Flags St. Louis
- 14 Six Flags White Water
- 15 References
- On July 6, 2012, a 67-year-old employee of the park was killed at Le Vampire. The employee was reportedly found underneath the attraction in a restricted area, appearing to have suffered head trauma. Park officials stated that the employee had been struck by the roller coaster. The employee was pronounced dead at the scene; another individual was taken to a hospital to be treated for shock. Officials with the park did not know why the employee entered the restricted area of the ride while it was operational, but they did state that the ride was operating normally and that procedures for entering restricted ride areas, including notification of ride staff, had not been followed.
Six Flags America
- On August 3, 2007, a 6-year-old girl fell from the Octopus while the ride was in motion and suffered minor injuries to her head, hip, and leg. Reports from eyewitnesses vary on the distance she fell, ranging from 4 feet (1.2 m) to 25 feet (7.6 m). Park officials said that they believe she fell because she was standing up while the ride was moving.
Two Face: The Flip Side
- In 2003, an electrical issue left 28 people stranded 130 feet in the air for 2 hours. No injuries were reported.
- On October 16, 2007, the train was stuck on the lift caused by a failed mechanism. Once the train returned to the station, the hydraulic line was severed, causing hydraulic fluid to spray on several riders. Twelve people needed medical attention, while two were taken to the hospital to be treated. The riders only suffered minor injuries.
The Joker's Jinx
- On August 10, 2014, at about 3pm, 24 people were trapped on the roller coaster when the train stalled along the course. The train was upright on a curve near one of the highest points on the ride. The local fire department used aerial fire apparatus to bring down riders one at a time. By 7:30pm local time, all riders had been removed from the ride, which was immediately closed for investigation. No riders were injured, and all were evaluated by emergency personnel.
Park Bomb Scare
On July 13, 2016, a bomb threat was called in right before the park opened. The Prince George's County Fire Department bomb squad and security personnel were deployed around the park and found two unattended backpacks that were determined not to be explosive. The all-clear was announced after a search of the park around 2:45 p.m. Six Flags announced that the park would be open until 8 p.m. that evening.
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
- On January 5, 1996, two trainers were attacked by cougars during an exercise session. One trainer was in the cougar enclosure to take one of the animals for a walk. The cougars, Zuni and Tonto, had been playing among themselves and began aggressively playing with him, causing severe cuts on his face and upper torso. The backup trainer suffered minor cuts and bruises in his attempt to free the other.
- On July 31, 1998, Kuma, a two-year-old Bengal tiger, attacked and seriously injured a guest from San Jose, California, and slightly injured the trainer. The incident happened in a secluded area of the park set up to do private photo sessions with the big cats. The tiger was apparently startled when the guest fell off the photo platform and landed on top of her. The trainer suffered a clawing while trying to free the guest who had received serious injuries to her head and upper torso.
- On June 2, 2004, a 23-year-old African elephant named Misha gored her trainer while in her enclosure as the trainer walked beside her. This was Misha's second aggressive act following a previous swipe at a trainer two years prior.
- On August 25, 1999, 28 passengers were stranded on the Boomerang ride for several hours. The shuttle that pulled the train up an incline failed to release the train. Employees were eventually able to fix the problem and started the coaster. It successfully went around both loops on its first pass, but stalled upside down at the peak of one of the loops on its way back for hours. Riders, suffering from cases of severe dehydration and sunburn, were rescued by firefighters in aerial fire apparatus.
- On September 4, 1999, a nine-year-old boy was injured when he slipped below the restraining bar on the Scat-a-bout, a twister ride. The boy was thrown from the ride and landed in a nearby planter, receiving cuts on his legs. The park later stated that the accident was the result of the boy intentionally sliding beneath the safety restraint.
- In May 2001, a 41-year-old woman from Antioch, California was thrown from the ride when a restraining bar failed as the result of a pneumatic valve being incorrectly installed. She landed on the pavement and suffered head and knee injuries. Her later lawsuit named both the park and ride manufacturer Chance Rides as responsible parties.
- On June 8, 2002, a 9-year-old girl was critically injured when she slipped beneath the restraining bar and fell from the Starfish ride, receiving critical head injuries. Investigators later blamed park employees for incorrectly seating the girl and not having proper signage indicating the proper seating arrangement for a larger and smaller rider.
Six Flags Fiesta Texas
- On July 11, 2007, a 37-year-old man was charged improper photography or visual recording after allegedly acting suspiciously with a video camera by secretly filming young girls in the water park section. Reports have said he was trying to film someone without permission in an attempt to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of a person.
- On June 12, 2007, a 14-year-old girl was paralyzed after she fell into a gap between the roller coaster's cars, landing on a concrete floor about 10 feet (3.0 m) below the platform. Family members stated that she may have fainted due to the heat of the day.
- On August 28, 2010, two people were stuck on the Poltergeist for two hours.
Six Flags Great Adventure
Batman & Robin: The Chiller
- On August 18, 2004, lightning struck a power substation near the park, causing a power cut to the park. Twenty passengers on The Chiller were left stranded on the ride, approximately 75 feet (23 m) above ground, for 40 minutes. The train's angle was such that eight passengers were upside-down. No injuries were reported. The Robin side was only operational at the time of the incident.
- On April 19, 1987, an unidentified gunman fired several shots into a crowd on the plaza inside the main gate, wounding one man and sending panicked guests running for safety. It was the third violent incident of the day, following two earlier unrelated stabbings. The park was evacuated a few minutes after the shooting, about an hour earlier than its scheduled 8:00 p.m. closing time. Park officials modified security after the incident, including adding metal detectors at the park's entrance.
- On May 11, 1984, eight teenage visitors were trapped in the Haunted Castle attraction, and lost their lives when it was destroyed by fire. Six Flags Great Adventure and its parent company Six Flags were subsequently indicted for aggravated manslaughter, accused of recklessly causing the deaths by taking inadequate precautions against a fire. In the subsequent trial, the prosecution argued that repeated warnings by safety consultants to install sprinklers or smoke alarms had been ignored. The defendants denied any culpability, and contended that the fire was arson and that no precautions would have saved lives. The trial jury found the defendants not guilty. A light bulb had burned out in one of the rooms of the attraction, and a 14-year-old boy lit a cigarette lighter to find his way through the darkness. The flame ignited some foam rubber padding which was used to protect people from bumping into a wall. A fire resulted, which quickly spread throughout the 17-trailer structure with the help of extremely flammable building materials. The fire eventually engulfed and totally destroyed the attraction.
- On June 17, 1987, a 19-year-old girl died after falling from the Lightnin' Loops shuttle loop roller coaster. An investigation by the State Labor Department concluded that the ride itself was operating properly, but that the ride operator started the ride without checking that all of the passengers were securely fastened by the safety harnesses. The Department's Office of Safety Compliance further concluded that the accident would not have occurred if proper procedures had been followed. The park was found to be in violation of the Carnival/Amusement Ride Safety Act and was subsequently charged with the maximum state fines of $1,000.
- On August 16, 1981, a 20-year-old park employee from Middletown Township, New Jersey fell to his death from the Rolling Thunder roller coaster during a routine test run. An investigation by the New Jersey Labor Department concluded that the man may not have secured himself with the safety bar. A park representative later confirmed this conclusion, saying that the employee "may have assumed an unauthorized riding position that did not make use of safety restraints." The ride was inspected, and the Labor Department concluded that the ride was "operationally and mechanically sound."
- On August 29, 1981, a 19-year-old girl choked to death on the ride.
- On August 15, 1977 a mechanic was repairing the Sky Ride, and the cable severed his leg.
Six Flags Great America
From 2004 to September 2007, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspected Six Flags parks five different times and found a total of four violations. On September 10, 2007, OSHA cited Great America with 38 safety violations, alleging "multiple serious and repeat violations at the amusement park, ranging from defective emergency brakes on an industrial truck to a lack of labeling procedures for preventing inadvertent machine start-ups." OSHA fined the park US$117,700.
- On July 19, 2000, a 12-year-old girl from McHenry, Illinois suffered two crushed toes after the floor of the ride was improperly raised prior to the ride coming to a complete stop. A second guest also had her foot trapped in this accident. The ride was permanently shut down as part of an out-of-court settlement. In the ten years prior to this accident, there were thirteen other reported incidents involving the Cajun Cliffhanger ride, at least six of which involved injuries.
Spacely's Sprocket Rockets
- On August 16, 2006, a 10-year-old girl from Arlington Heights, Illinois collapsed and died after riding the Spacely's Sprocket Rockets roller coaster in the Camp Cartoon Network area. An autopsy showed that she died of a congenital heart anomaly. Her family said that she had a history of the anomaly.
- On April 18, 1998, 23 riders on the Demon roller coaster were stranded upside-down in the middle of the ride's second vertical loop. Firefighters used an aerial fire apparatus to bring riders to safety, although some were on the ride for as long as three hours. The incident was the result of a mechanical failure.
- On May 22, 1984, three teenage boys were seriously injured when the ride vehicle fell back down the lift shaft.
- On June 29, 2005, a 68-year-old guest from Chicago, Illinois had a heart attack and died in the wave pool .
- On May 29, 2004, a 52-year-old ride mechanic from Zion, Illinois was killed by a roller-coaster car as he attempted to cross the tracks. Suffering from a traumatic head injury, he died at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee.
- On May 3, 2003, an 11-year-old girl from Gary, Indiana, collapsed after riding the Raging Bull coaster. She died after being taken to the hospital. While initial reports said that she died from choking on chewing gum she had been eating while on the ride, the coroner's report later stated that she died due to cardiomegaly, and had been seeing a cardiologist for treatment.
- On June 25, 1997, a 14-year-old Waukegan boy injured his arm while dangling it outside the car. His limb got caught between the car and the platform as the ride reentered the station and slowed to a stop.
- During a 1980 investigation of an accident at the Great America park in California of their Willard's Whizzer coaster, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission discovered two incidents at the Illinois park that had not been previously reported: on July 24, 1976, 13 guests were injured; and on August 18, 1976, 18 guests were injured. The CPSC report does not list injury or accident details for either incident.
Sky Trek Tower
- On June 21, 2015, the ride stopped in the middle of the tower. Guests were stranded for 2 hours and had to be evacuated down a staircase. No injuries occurred.
Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom
Six Flags Magic Mountain
- In 2006, there were 109 complaints by Magic Mountain guests due to various incidents, according to an annual report from the Amusement Safety Organization. Reports ranged from nosebleeds and heat exhaustion, to neck and back injuries from various rides. Included in those 109 complaints were 18 reports of people blacking out on the Goliath roller coaster. Other complaints were safety-related, such as notices of ride operators talking on cell phones while operating rides. The report stated that the state of California received notice of 80 injuries at Magic Mountain between January 2001 and December 2006.
- In 1978, a 20-year-old woman died after falling out of the ride. The lap bar was locked in place, but due to the woman's obesity, it proved to be ineffective. One of the old cars has been sent to the Sky Tower. This incident prompted Colossus to be closed for a year while the trains were switched out and other adjustments were made.
- On September 8, 2014, a fire broke out atop Colossus's lift hill. The ride had already been closed down for conversion into Twisted Colossus, and no injuries or deaths were reported. The fire was caused by welders working on removing track. The fire was an accident, and no one was taken to court.
- On February 5, 1978, a gondola car on Eagle's Flight traveling the El Dorado course fell 50 feet (15 m) to the ground. A pair of newlyweds were violently rocking the car back and forth, causing it to detach from the cable. The husband was killed, and his wife suffered serious injuries, including losing her legs.
- On June 2, 2001, a 28-year-old woman died of a brain aneurysm while riding Goliath. Her family sued the park, claiming that managers were aware of other complaints from Goliath riders and continued to still operate the coaster anyway.
- On September 30, 2012, a 19-year-old man fell from the Venom Drop water slide. According to a spokesperson for the water park, the man cut in line at the slide, fought through the lifeguards, and jumped onto the slide head-first. The man tumbled onto the slide and slipped over the edge, falling 60 feet onto a fence below the slide tower. The local sheriff's office reported that the man was transported to an area hospital with life-threatening injuries.
- On August 30, 2008, a 20-year-old man was hospitalized after being hit by the train and knocked unconscious when he allegedly climbed multiple security fences to retrieve a hat. Airlifted to the UCLA Medical Center, he was pronounced dead at 2 a.m. on the following day, due to blunt force trauma.
- On July 7, 2014, 22 guests were stranded for over two hours after a tree branch fell onto the coaster track. Four of the 22 guests were injured, but none serious enough to require a hospital visit.
- On May 30, 1996, an employee was killed while crossing the tracks in the roller coaster's station. She slipped and fell into a shallow pit beneath the tracks and was struck by a train that was pulling into the station.
- On June 13, 2015, a 10-year-old girl was found unconscious but breathing after returning to the roller coaster's station. She died the following day at a nearby hospital. A coroner's report said the girl died from natural causes.
- On April 9, 2004, a 21-year-old ride operator died after being struck by the roller coaster while underneath the track during a test run prior to the park's opening that day. The roller coaster was allowed to be re-opened the next week after an OSHA inspection found no mechanical issues.
Six Flags New England
Houdini's Great Escape
- On October 9, 2010, Houdini's Great Escape (which was being used as a haunted house called Midnight Mansion), which was available during Fright Fest, suspiciously caught on fire. Firefighters were called to extinguish the flames, but the ride was closed for the rest of the night and the following day. Investigations showed that a flammable cobweb hanging on the top of the building was the cause of the fire after coming in close contact with a light fixture. Nearly 20 feet of cobweb burned up, and the building only suffered minor damages to the roof and exterior. No one was injured, but damages were estimated at $5,000.
Superman: Ride of Steel
- On August 6, 2001, one of the trains failed to stop at the ride's brake run, colliding with the other train in the loading station. 22 people were taken to hospitals, without any major injuries. The ride would reopen twelve days later on August 18, 2001.
- On May 1, 2004, a 53-year-old, 230 lb (104.5 kg) man from Bloomfield, Connecticut fell out of his coaster seat during the last turn and was killed. Reports show that the ride attendant had not checked that the guest's ride restraint was secure as his girth was too large for the T-bar-shaped ride restraint to close properly. The victim's family said that due to his various medical conditions, such as cerebral palsy, he shouldn't have been allowed to ride. The park stated that the federal Americans with Disabilities Act forbids them from denying a ride to a person with a disability as long as the person can get on the ride by themselves.
Six Flags New Orleans
- On July 10, 2003, a 52-year-old grandmother was strapping her 4-year-old grandson in when the ride started up. She died from blunt-force internal injuries after being struck by a ride vehicle. The park added mirrors to the ride for ride operators to view around the blind spot where the accident occurred, and then introduced a safety announcement which notified the guests that the ride was about to start.
Six Flags Over Georgia
Batman: The Ride
- On May 26, 2002, a 58-year-old Six Flags foreman was struck in the head and killed by the dangling legs of a passenger after he wandered into the ride's path after entering a locked, no-access area during the ride's operation. The passenger, a 14-year-old girl, was hospitalized with leg injuries and released.
- On June 28, 2008, a 17-year-old male from Columbia, South Carolina was decapitated by the passing train after he climbed over two six-foot fences and entered a restricted area. Reports said that the victim was trying to retrieve his lost hat. Additional eyewitnesses stated that the victim and a companion, who also entered the restricted area but was uninjured, were trying to take a shortcut back into the park after leaving the park for lunch. No one on the ride was injured.
- On July 27, 2006, a 45-year-old male from Birmingham, Alabama died of a heart attack after riding Goliath. He was alert during the ride, but was unconscious when the train arrived at the loading platform. Autopsy showed that the man had a congenital heart condition, and it was expected that the medical examiner would announce that he died of natural causes. Goliath was closed for two hours for an inspection, but was found to be operating normally.
Great Air Racer
- On May 27, 1984, 34 passengers were injured after a computer malfunction caused the ride's cables to drop the planes out of position.
- On June 3, 1984, a mechanical problem caused a train to stop abruptly, causing four people to be hospitalized. The ride was repaired and put back into service with no more problems.
- In May 2009, four children became ill when the attraction failed to stop at the end of its cycle. After returning to a horizontal position, a limit switch failed and the ride continued to spin for five to ten minutes. The park's first-aid staff treated the children, while one was transported to an area hospital by his parents; the child was not admitted, however. An investigation determined that the ride operator did not engage an emergency stop switch due to a miscommunication between her and her supervisor; the park's ride operators are trained in how to stop their rides in the event of a malfunction. Since then, additional safety features have been added to ensure that the attraction automatically stops within 15 seconds if the limit switch were to fail.
- On July 18, 1989, an 11-year-old boy from Talladega, Alabama became unconscious while riding Z-Force. Park staff performed CPR, but the victim was pronounced dead after being taken to the hospital. An autopsy failed to pinpoint the cause of death.
Six Flags Over Texas
- On March 21, 1999, a 28-year-old woman died, and 10 other guests were injured, when the raft they were on overturned in 2–3 feet of water due to sudden deflation of the air chambers that support the raft. The raft then got caught on an underwater pipe, which provided leverage for the rushing water in the ride to flip the boat over. In a subsequent settlement, Six Flags agreed to pay US$4 million to the victim's family, and the company said it would join the family in a lawsuit against Canyon Manufacturing Co., the company responsible for parts that were related to the accident.
- On July 19, 2013, a 52-year-old woman from Dallas, Texas fell 75 feet (23 m) to her death while riding the Texas Giant roller coaster. According to one eyewitness account, the victim was concerned about being properly secured after boarding the ride. A ride attendant assured her that as long as she heard a click, it was secure. Other eyewitnesses believed the seat restraint locked into place normally and reported seeing it in the lowered position when the roller coaster returned. Some riders informed investigators that the woman was thrown from the roller coaster as it rounded a turn, and one rider tweeted that he saw the restraint come undone. The ride closed for two months during the investigation. The victim was found on top of the metal roof of one of the coaster tunnels, near the Music Mill Amphitheater. Due to the similarity of Texas Giant and Iron Rattler, Six Flags Fiesta Texas ceased running the new Iron Rattler pending investigation findings from Six Flags Over Texas. In under a month, Iron Rattler reopened on August 14 with seat belts as another added restraint to the two trains. Representatives from Gerstlauer, the German company that designed and built the ride's trains, are planning on participating in the investigation. While Gerstlauer would not discuss specifics of the incident, the company did state that their restraint system could not open while the ride was in motion. Then on September 10, 2013, Six Flags Over Texas released a statement stating that the park has finished its investigation on the recent incident and will reopen the Texas Giant on September 14, 2013. With the reopening of the coaster the park has re-designed the restraint-bar pads and added seat-belts to the three trains and added a test seat at the entrance so riders can test if they are able to ride. The woman's family filed lawsuits against both the park and manufacturer. The park and manufacturer subsequently sued each other saying the other was responsible for the accident. On November 18, 2014, attorneys for the victim's family announced that they had reached an undisclosed settlement with both Six Flags and Gerstlauer, with a spokesperson saying the family "is very pleased with the settlement and appreciates the condolences offered by Six Flags and Gerstlauer".
- On August 9, 2012, six lifeguards suffered minor injuries on the Tornado water slide during a training session. Park officials say it was the result of 'inappropriate horseplay'.
On March 12, 2006, ten people suffered minor injuries when the Texas Tornado, a Chance Rides Manufacturing "Yo-Yo" attraction, was brought to an abrupt stop and several swing seats collided with each other. Five people were sent to the hospital after complaints of back pain, the others were treated at the on-site first aid station. In October 2008, Chance recalled 85 Yo-Yo rides to repair defects that were found in this accident and one other.
Six Flags St. Louis
River King Mine Train / Rail Blazer
- On July 7, 1984, a 46-year-old woman was riding the Rail Blazer roller coaster when she was flung from the ride and fell 20 feet (6.1 m) to her death. Park officials claimed that the woman fainted and fell out of the car, but her husband, who had been beside her, said that she had not fainted but had simply been tossed from the ride when it whipped around a curve. At the time, the ride was only the third stand-up roller coaster in the world, but following this incident it was converted back to a sit-down coaster.
- On July 26, 1978, A man and his three nieces made a visit to Six Flags over Mid America. The uncle and two of his three nieces died when their gondola fell from the cable. The ride was shut down immediately, leaving nearly 100 stranded in the 27 remaining cars, some of which had stopped at heights of up to 200 feet. Firefighters were called to the park to rescue the occupants of those cars. A park spokesman claimed that the car simply "dropped off" its cable.
- On May 6, 2016, the Boomerang came to an abrupt halt, and the middle car partially derailed. The park was closed at the time, but groups of high school students were at the park on field trips. Four students suffered minor injuries, but were able to get off the ride. Three of the students were taken to a nearby hospital as a precautionary measure, though no one was seriously injured or hurt.
Six Flags White Water
- On July 11, 2010, a fire broke out in a maintenance building during operating hours, forcing the evacuation and closure of the park. The fire was contained to a single building, located adjacent to the park's wave pool and used principally for storage. Spokespeople for the water park and for the Cobb County fire department noted that everyone was evacuated safely and that there were no reported injuries. The park re-opened two days later on July 13 after crews had sealed off the damaged area caused by the fire.
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