List of incidents at Disneyland Resort
This is a summary of notable incidents that have taken place at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. While the California Department of Safety and Health (CDSH) has ruled that some guest-related incidents are Disney's fault, the majority of incidents were the result of negligence on the guests' part.
The term incidents refers to major accidents, injuries, deaths, and similar significant occurrences. While these incidents are required to be reported to regulatory authorities for investigation, attraction-related incidents 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.
- A generic accident (e.g. slipping and falling) that is not a direct result of an action by any party.
- On August 29, 2019, a 38-year-old construction worker was fatally injured when a steel plate fell on him while working in a trench with other employees. Paramedics tried to perform CPR, but the man later died after being taken to a nearby hospital.
Guest altercations and incidents
- On August 6, 1970, the Youth International Party ("Yippies") held a publicly promoted gathering called the “First International Pow-Wow” at the park with the intent to "liberate" Disneyland from the establishment. Anticipating a large riot, every police department in Orange County provided additional security and a special court was set up to process mass arrests. The Pow-Wow was largely peaceful, although Disneyland closed early after the Yippies replaced the American flag at Fort Wilderness with their own. As police attempted to escort the Yippies out of the park, fights broke out between Yippies and other guests, and at least 18 Yippies were arrested for violations such as trespassing, drug possession and property damage.
- On March 7, 1981, an 18-year-old man was fatally stabbed with a knife during a fight with a 28-year-old man, after the victim supposedly pinched the man's girlfriend in Tomorrowland. His family sued the park for $60 million. The jury found the park negligent for not summoning outside medical help, and awarded the family $600,000.
- On September 14, 1985, a 7-year-old girl from Torrance, California was crushed to death beneath the wheels of a bus at Disneyland. The girl was walking across the parking lot with her uncle, looking for his car, when she fell under a moving charter bus that crushed her. Paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene.
- On March 7, 1987, a 15-year-old boy was fatally shot in the Disneyland parking lot. The incident began as an early-morning confrontation between rival gang members before escalating into a brawl. 18-year-old Keleti Naea was convicted of second-degree murder, but the conviction was subsequently overturned by a state appellate court.
- On July 6, 2019, a fight broke out among four people in Mickey's Toontown after reports that a woman had spit into a man's face. The four people and their families were escorted off the property and criminal charges were considered. Like the Tower of Terror incident, it was filmed on camera phone and uploaded to YouTube.
Mickey & Friends parking structures
- On February 23, 2007, two women suffered head injuries after falling out of a tram in the parking lot.
- On October 17, 2010, a 61-year-old man from Hickman, California jumped to his death from the top floor of the Mickey & Friends parking structure. He left behind a note citing "personal issues" for his suicide.
- On April 2, 2012, a 23-year-old man was found near the northwest corner of the Mickey & Friends parking structure, and was pronounced dead at the scene. At the time, it was investigated as a suicide, but there were no witnesses that had seen him jump.
- On November 26, 2016, a 40-year-old man jumped to his death from the Mickey & Friends parking structure just after 2:00 a.m. He was rushed to UC Irvine Medical Center and pronounced dead at 3:08 a.m.
- On February 13, 2017, a fire broke out on the second floor of the Mickey & Friends parking structure. Seven people were treated for smoke inhalation. Four cars were destroyed and an additional four received major damage.
- On August 13, 2018, smoke filled the Mickey & Friends parking structure, forcing visitors to wait outside as firefighters doused the flames. The fire was out in about 30 minutes. Only one car was damaged.
- On December 27, 2017, a major power outage struck Disneyland Park and temporarily closed down rides, mostly located in Toontown and Fantasyland. Rides that lost power had to be evacuated, but no assistance from the local fire department was necessary, and no injuries were reported. All attractions were fully operational again later in the day. According to a Disneyland spokesperson, the outage was caused by a transformer failure.
Public health and infectious disease outbreaks
- Between December 17, 2014 and December 20, 2014, visitors to the park were exposed to measles, resulting in an outbreak that affected residents of 8 US states as well as Mexico and Canada. The California Department of Public Health was first notified of a suspected measles case on January 5, 2015 and by February 11, 2015 at least thirty-nine individuals who had visited at least one of the two adjacent Disney parks during the exposure period had become ill. In addition to this likely direct exposure, secondary and unknown transmissions were numerous, resulting in at least 125 cases within the United States by February 11, 2015. The specific outbreak was declared over in the US in mid-April, 2015 after 42 days with no traceable transmission and 147 having been affected within the United States. This measles outbreak resulted in no known deaths.
- After the operating day on March 13, 2020, the park closed in response to the novel COVID-19 pandemic and pressure from California Governor Gavin Newsom in which a stay at home order was issued a week later. On March 5, 2021, it was announced by the California Department of Public Health that Disneyland could reopen with capacity restrictions beginning April 1, 2021. The following week, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said that the company is planning on officially reopening the park on April 30, 2021.
Disney California Adventure
Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! (formerly The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror)
- On August 18, 2010, a 20-year-old man was hospitalized after falling 25 feet (7.6 m) from the platform of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. He was waiting in line to ride the attraction and climbed over a barrier before losing his balance.
- On April 22, 2003, a 36-year-old stage technician fell 60 feet (18 m) from a catwalk in the Hyperion Theater, prompting an investigation by the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA). The victim did not regain consciousness following the incident and died on May 18, 2003. In October 2003, Cal/OSHA fined the Disneyland Resort $18,350 for safety violations related to the technician's death.
- On September 25, 2011, the flying carpet prop used during "A Whole New World" in Disney's Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular malfunctioned while flying through the theater, causing the carpet to flip over and suspend the actors playing Aladdin and Jasmine upside down. The performance was immediately stopped and the theater evacuated. No injuries or deaths were reported.
Incredicoaster (formerly California Screamin’)
- On July 29, 2005, 25 guests were injured when the purple train rear-ended the red train. Of the 48 guests aboard the two trains, 15 were taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries.
- On July 22, 2011, 23 people were rescued from California Screamin' by firefighters when a person's backpack fell out of one of the trains and landed on the track, causing the orange train to stop just after the loop but before the next block brake. It re-opened two days later after the train was winched up the next hill, had its damaged wheels replaced and was allowed to complete the circuit.
- On May 2, 2016, a passenger using a selfie stick caused park officials to shut down and evacuate the attraction for over an hour. Selfie sticks have been banned at Disney parks since June 2015 when the same ride was shut down due to a selfie stick.
- On August 6, 2016, 15 passengers were stuck on the ride for 45 minutes when a woman's purse fell onto the tracks, triggering an automatic stop. No injuries were reported.
Pixar Pal-A-Round (formerly Mickey’s Fun Wheel and Sun Wheel)
- On October 2, 2014, 45 riders got stuck on Mickey's Fun Wheel for 90 minutes before being rescued. No injuries were reported.
- On February 18, 2012, an allegedly drunk 53-year-old man assaulted an employee at the entrance gate of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror around 3:30 p.m. The employee pepper-sprayed the man multiple times, which prompted the man to continue fighting until he was subdued by other guests. Security personnel then arrived and detained the man. Details as to what started the fight remain unknown. The man was eventually removed from the park and charged with assault and battery by the Anaheim Police Department. The incident was filmed via camera phone and uploaded to YouTube.
Alice in Wonderland
- On December 21, 2000, a 15-year-old boy from Mesa, Arizona was critically injured and suffered a broken leg after his left foot became stuck between a guardrail and the car in which he was riding. Police claimed that the boy might have dangled his leg outside of the car, causing the injury. The attraction reopened in less than six hours after an investigation.
- On July 8, 1974, 18-year-old Deborah Gail Stone, a new employee who had just graduated from Santa Ana High School, was crushed to death after slipping between a revolving wall and a stationary platform inside the America Sings attraction. She was in the wrong place during a ride intermission; it was unclear whether this was the result of inadequate training or a misstep, as the ride had only opened about a week earlier. The attraction was closed for two days while crews installed warning lights and breakaway walls to prevent further incidents.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- On March 10, 1998, a 5-year-old boy was seriously injured when his foot became wedged between the passenger car's running board and the edge of the platform after the train temporarily paused before pulling into the unloading area. All of the toes on his left foot required amputation. Disneyland then made improvements to the ride, though the family claims that the park would not acknowledge the accident as the reason for doing so.
- On September 5, 2003, a 22-year-old man died after suffering severe blunt-force trauma and extensive internal bleeding in a derailment of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster that also injured ten other riders. The cause of the accident was determined to be improper maintenance. Investigation reports and discovery by the victim's attorney confirmed the fatal injuries occurred when the first passenger car collided with the underside of the locomotive. The derailment was the result of a mechanical failure that had occurred because of omissions during a maintenance procedure. Fasteners on the left side upstop/guide wheel on the floating axle of the locomotive were not tightened and secured in accordance with specifications. As the train entered a tunnel, the axle came loose and jammed against a brake section, causing the locomotive to become airborne and hit the ceiling of the tunnel. The locomotive then fell on top of the first passenger car, crushing the victim. Some people blamed the new cost-conscious maintenance culture brought in by Paul Pressler and consultants McKinsey & Company in 1997, which included reliability-centered maintenance.
- On December 24, 1998, a heavy metal cleat fastened to the hull of the Sailing Ship Columbia tore loose, striking one 30-year-old employee and two park guests. One of the guests, a 33-year-old man, died of a head injury at UCI Medical Center two days later. The normal tie line, an inelastic hemp rope designed to break easily, was improperly replaced for financial reasons by an elastic nylon rope that stretched and tore the cleat from the ship's wooden hull. Disney received much criticism for this incident as the result of its alleged policy of restricting outside medical personnel in the park to avoid frightening visitors, as well as for the fact that the employee in charge of the ship at the time had not been trained in its operation. After this incident, Disney reinstated lead foremen on most rides, and the Anaheim Police Department placed officers in the park to speed response. This accident resulted in the first guest death on a Disneyland ride that was not attributable to any negligence on the part of the guest. California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health investigated the incident and found fault with the training of the park employee who placed the docking line on the cleat. The cleat was not designed to help brake the ship and the employee should have been trained to recognize when the ship was approaching too fast. Ride procedures called for the ship's captain to reverse the ship if it overshot the dock and re-approach the dock at the correct speed. Disney was fined $12,500 by Cal/OSHA and settled a lawsuit brought by the victim's survivors for an estimated $25 million.
A Christmas Fantasy Parade
- On December 15, 2018, a float with Santa Claus on his sled partially collapsed during a performance of A Christmas Fantasy Parade, causing the sled's front to fall downward quickly. This caused the actor playing Santa to be thrown off the sled, leaving him dangling by his safety harness. The actor walked away unassisted and no injuries were reported. Performances resumed later in the day without the disabled float, with Santa moved to another float in the parade.
- Within a week of Disneyland's opening on July 17, 1955, a brakeman pulled the switch connecting the Disneyland Railroad's main line with a siding at Main Street, U.S.A. Station too soon as the Retlaw 2 freight train on the siding was passing the Retlaw 1 passenger train stopped at the station on the main line.[clarification needed] The caboose on the end of the freight train had not made it fully across the switch when it was pulled, and as a result, the caboose's front set of wheels correctly traveled along the siding while the rear set of wheels incorrectly traveled along the main line toward the passenger train, causing the caboose to swing to the side before colliding with a concrete slab and derailing upon impact. During the ensuing commotion, the erring brakeman, presumably to avoid disciplinary action, quietly left the scene of the accident, exited the park, and was not seen again. No injuries were reported, and by the following year, the usage of sidings at stations on the DRR's main line came to an end.
- In February 2000, a tree in the Adventureland section fell onto the DRR's Holiday Red freight train while it was in motion, damaging the awnings and their supports on the gondolas, as well as knocking off the cupola on top of the caboose before the train came to a stop. No injuries occurred as a result of this accident.
- At Tomorrowland Station in early 2004, accumulated diesel fumes in the firebox of the DRR's No. 3 Fred Gurley locomotive exploded after its fire suddenly went out. The explosion ejected the engineer from the locomotive's cab and inflicted serious burns on the fireman.
- On the afternoon of August 11, 2019, the DRR's No. 5 Ward Kimball locomotive broke down on a trestle over the entrance to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge with a blown axle, forcing an evacuation of the train. No injuries were reported and the DRR was back in service by the following day.
Indiana Jones Adventure
- On June 25, 2000, a 23-year-old woman from Spain exited the Indiana Jones ride complaining of a severe headache. She was hospitalized later that day and was discovered to have suffered a brain hemorrhage. She died on September 1, 2000 of a cerebral aneurysm. Her family's subsequent wrongful death lawsuit against Disney stated that the victim died because of "violent shaking and stresses imposed by the ride." In an interlocutory appeal (an appeal of a legal issue within the case prior to a decision on the case's merits), the California Supreme Court held that amusement parks are considered "common carriers" similar to commercially operated planes, trains, elevators and ski lifts. This ruling imposes a heightened duty of care on amusement parks and requires them to provide the same degree of care and safety as do other common carriers. Disney settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed sum after the interlocutory appeal, but before a decision was rendered on the case's merits. The victim's medical costs were estimated at more than $1.3 million.
It's a Small World
- On November 27, 2009, the ride broke down while a guest with quadriplegia was on the ride. The guest was stuck in the ride's "Goodbye Room", the final setting of It's a Small World, for 30–40 minutes before being evacuated. As he suffered from medical conditions that were aggravated by the "blaring music" and was unable to exit the ride, the guest sued Disney for its inadequate evacuation procedures for disabled guests, and for not providing proper warnings for those who could not evacuate during a ride stoppage. On March 26, 2013, a jury awarded the man $8,000.
- On the night of February 28, 2015, a small fire broke out in a backstage area of the park relatively close to the attraction. The flames were reported around 9:20 p.m., and were said to have been caused by the fireworks show that was rescheduled earlier that evening because of rain. A park spokeswoman said that the flames were contained by around 9:48 p.m., and no injuries were reported. The attraction reopened on March 1, 2015.
- On April 16, 1981, a woman who was at the park with her husband and 4 children was standing in line to purchase popcorn at the park's hub at the end of Main Street, near Sleeping Beauty's Castle, collapsed and later died at Palm Harbor General Hospital in nearby Garden Grove, California.
- In May 1964, a 15-year-old boy from Long Beach, California was injured after he stood up in the Matterhorn Bobsleds and fell out. It was reported that his restraint was undone by his ride companion. He died three days later as a result of his injuries. This was Disneyland's first fatality.
- On January 3, 1984, a 48-year-old woman from Fremont, California was decapitated when she was thrown from a Matterhorn bobsled car and was then struck by the next oncoming bobsled. An investigation found that her seat belt was not buckled. It is unclear whether the victim deliberately unfastened her belt or if the seat belt had malfunctioned.
- On June 8, 1966, 19-year-old Thomas Guy Cleveland from Northridge, California was killed while attempting to sneak into the park by climbing onto the monorail track. Ignoring the shouted warnings of a security officer, he was struck by the train and dragged 30 to 40 feet down the track. The security guard later stated that he had to "hose the kid off the underside".
- In August 1967, a 16-year-old boy from Hawthorne, California was killed while jumping between two moving PeopleMover cars as the ride was passing through a tunnel. He stumbled and fell onto the track, where an oncoming train of cars crushed him beneath its wheels, dragging his body a few hundred feet before it was stopped by a ride operator. The attraction had only been open for one month at the time.
- In 1972, four teenage girls were riding the PeopleMover when one lost her mouse-ears cap. She and her cousin jumped onto the track to retrieve it. Realizing that they had to get on a different PeopleMover car, the first girl successfully got into a car, while the second girl ran through a tunnel and out the exit, and then fell into a guard rail and onto the concrete 30 feet (9 m) below. She broke an arm, hip, and her pelvis, and she had to be placed in a body brace and have a pin inserted into her leg. She sued Disney for not providing any warnings about the exit.
- On June 7, 1980, an 18-year-old guest was crushed and killed by the PeopleMover while jumping between moving cars. The accident occurred as the ride entered the SuperSpeed tunnel and was very similar to the 1967 incident.
Pack Mules Through Nature's Wonderland
- On an unknown date before 1973, a mule's saddle broke, causing a rider to fall off and tumble down an incline, injuring him. This resulted in a jury award of $142,000, the largest against Disneyland until that time, and led to the closing of the ride 
Rivers of America
- On June 20, 1973, an 18-year-old New York resident and his 10-year-old brother stayed on Tom Sawyer's Island past closing time by hiding in an area that is off-limits to guests. When they wanted to leave the island, they tried to swim across the river, though the younger boy did not know how to swim. The older boy attempted to carry his brother on his back and drowned halfway across. His body was found the next morning. The younger brother was able to stay afloat by dog paddling until a ride operator rescued him.
- On June 4, 1983, an 18-year-old man from Albuquerque, New Mexico drowned in the Rivers of America while trying to pilot a rubber emergency boat from Tom Sawyer's Island that he and a friend had stolen from a restricted area of the island during Disneyland's annual Grad Nite. Both individuals were intoxicated at the time of the incident. The victim's mother sued Disneyland for allowing her inebriated son onto the premises and the travel agency that had arranged the trip for not properly supervising the teenagers. The lawsuits were unsuccessful.
- On January 21, 2001, a six-year-old girl lost two-thirds of her left index finger while playing with a toy rifle that was mounted on a turret on Fort Wilderness on Tom Sawyer's Island. Disney did not report this incident to OSHA, as serious injury accidents must only be reported only if the incident occurred on a ride. The girl was rushed to a hospital, but doctors were unable to reattach her finger. OSHA stated that the incident did not fall under their review, as accidents and injuries that occur on playground equipment do not qualify for OSHA reporting.
- On April 17, 1994, a 30-year-old man fell approximately 20 feet (6 m) from a gondola into a tree in front of Alice in Wonderland. Paramedics rescued him and took him to an area hospital for treatment for minor injuries. The man filed a $25,000 lawsuit against Disney, claiming that he had simply fallen out of the ride. However, just before the trial date in September 1996, the victim admitted that he had purposely jumped out of the ride; the suit was subsequently dropped.
- On August 14, 1979, a 31-year-old woman became sick after riding Space Mountain. At the unload area, she was unable to exit the vehicle. Although employees told her to stay seated while the vehicle was removed from the track, other ride operators did not realize that her vehicle was supposed to be removed, and they accidentally sent her through the ride a second time. She arrived at the unloading zone semi-conscious. The victim was taken to Palm Harbor Hospital, where she remained in a coma and died one week later. The coroner's report attributed the death to natural causes; a heart tumor had dislodged and entered her brain. A subsequent lawsuit against the park was dismissed.
- In 1983, an 18-year-old man from Quartz Hill, California fell off Space Mountain and was paralyzed from the waist down. A jury found Disneyland blameless. During the trial, the jury was taken to the park to ride Space Mountain, and several of the cars were brought into the courtroom to demonstrate their use.
- On August 2, 2000, nine people suffered minor injuries when the ride's safety-control systems caused the train to stop abruptly. This was Space Mountain's first mechanical problem since its opening in 1977.
- In April 2013, Disney voluntarily closed Space Mountain, the Matterhorn Bobsleds and Soarin' Over California over OSHA-related issues so that employee-safety protocols could be reviewed. Downtime for each attraction differed, with Space Mountain closed the longest at one month. The safety review stemmed from seven OSHA fines that were initiated from a November 2012 incident when a worker fell down the outside of the Space Mountain building and broke several bones. Cal/OSHA originally fined Disney a record $234,850 but the fine was reduced to $82,000, and also fined the contracting company $60,995 for safety violations.
- On January 29, 2019, a man in his 20s with cognitive disabilities used force to maneuver out of his lap-bar restraint and climbed out of the moving train in the dark during a slower portion of the ride as the coaster was making its initial climb. The man's absence was not noted until the end of the ride when his friends discovered him missing, whereupon operators stopped the ride and guided him to safety. The man was uninjured, but was later taken to the hospital for a precautionary examination. The ride reopened on February 1 after an inspection.
Storybook Land Canal Boats
- On March 16, 2005, a four-year-old boy broke a finger and severed the tip of his thumb when his fingers were crushed between the boat and the dock while passengers were unloading. The ride was closed for nearly two days while state authorities investigated the accident. Authorities directed Disneyland to lower and repair rubber bumpers along the dock's edge, and to make sure ride operators inform passengers to keep their hands in the boat while it docks.
- On an unknown date before 1982, a woman claimed to suffer a back injury when one submarine rear-ended another. She was awarded almost $30,000.
Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin
- On September 22, 2000, a four-year-old boy fell out of the ride vehicle on Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin and was dragged underneath the car, causing serious internal injuries, cardiac arrest and brain damage. On October 7, 2000, Disneyland changed its emergency policy and began instructing ride operators to call 911 first, instead of the Disney security center, in order to speed emergency staff to any incident on park property. Records showed that more than five minutes passed between the time the victim fell out of the ride vehicle and when emergency personnel were contacted. A Disney spokesman claimed that the timing of the policy change and this incident were coincidental. An investigation ending in December 2000 concluded that a lap bar had malfunctioned and that the victim was placed in the wrong seat in the ride vehicle, too close to the opening. Three months after the incident, the Permanent Ride Amusement branch of California's Division of Occupational Safety instructed Disney to install additional safety features on the ride. In January 2002, Disney settled with the victim's family, based on the cost of the victim's continuing medical care and suffering; Disney was not required to accept blame. The victim never fully recovered from his injuries and died on January 26, 2009, aged thirteen, at Children's Hospital of Orange County.
- On May 28, 2013, two small explosions in trash cans caused the Toontown area of the park to be evacuated. Officials believe the explosions were caused by two plastic bottles filled with dry ice (or dry ice bombs) taken from a nearby ice cream stand, and the bomb squad was called to investigate. No injuries were reported. A 22-year-old concession-stand worker from Long Beach, California, Christian Barnes, was arrested and charged with creating and detonating the two dry-ice bombs. Barnes pled guilty to one misdemeanor count of possession of a destructive device; he was sentenced to 36 days in jail, three years of informal probation and 100 hours of community service, and was also banned for life from all Disney parks.
- In 1976, an unidentified woman sued Disney Parks Corporation because she claimed that one of the Three Little Pigs at the It's a Small World attraction grabbed and fondled her. She claimed to have gained 50 pounds (23 kg) as a result of the incident and sued Disney for $150,000 in damages for assault and battery, false imprisonment and humiliation. The plaintiff dropped charges after Disney's lawyers presented her with a photo of the costume, which had only inoperable stub arms, a common feature among the shorter characters that was eliminated in later years.
- In 1978, it was alleged that an employee playing Winnie the Pooh slapped a child and caused bruising, recurring headaches and possible brain damage. The worker testified that the girl was tugging at his costume from behind. When he turned around, he accidentally struck the girl in her ear. At one point, the employee entered the courtroom after a recess wearing the Pooh costume and responded to questions while on the witness stand as Pooh would, including dancing a jig. Appearing as Pooh showed the jury that the costume's arms were too low to the ground to slap a girl of the victim's height. The jury acquitted the worker after deliberating for 21 minutes.
- In 2007, a 30-second video surfaced showing an employee in a Pluto costume chasing a child on Main Street. It is unknown why Pluto was chasing the child. Pluto is seen chasing the child before being confronted by an adult, who pushes Pluto to the ground. After a shouting match, Pluto left the scene with his hands up and returned with another employee who talked with the adult who had pushed Pluto.
- In August 2012, a family claimed that an employee playing White Rabbit refused to hug or interact with their six-year-old son for racial reasons. The family claimed that the character interacted with white and Asian children. While Disney did offer an apology letter and park passes to the family, the family refused the offer and filed a lawsuit as Disney would not confirm whether the employee was still employed. The lawsuit was settled on December 30, 2013.
- On September 3, 1994, a 75-year-old man jumped to his death from a ninth-floor balcony of the Disneyland Hotel. This was the first suicide known to be committed at the Disneyland Resort.
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- On May 2, 2008, a 48-year-old man jumped from a 14th-story balcony of the Wonder Tower (now Frontier Tower) at the Disneyland Hotel, falling to his death in a parking lot.
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