Timeline: Amusement park ride accidents

man-falls-to-his-death-after-being-thrown-from-the-superman-ride-of-steel-roller-coaster
A man lost his life after being ejected from Superman: Ride of Steel at Six Flags Over New England in Agawam, Mass. Credit: Rene Schwietzke/Flickr

According to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, the chances of being seriously injured on a ride at a fixed-park site in the U.S. is one in 24 million. Although there will be more than one billion safe rides administered by the nation’s some 400 amusement parks this year, the ones that go tragically wrong will be etched in the backs of our minds before hopping onto another steel or wooden coaster.

The latest ride malfunction sadly cost a Texas woman her life after she fell from the train car of the 14-story Texas Giant roller coaster at the Six Flags Over Texas amusement park in Arlington, Texas, on Friday. Police have yet to release further details but witnesses are speaking out about the horrific scene.

Over the past decade, amusement park ride accidents – though not increasing in number – have triggered lawsuits and debate over whether the federal government should have jurisdiction over the investigations of these incidents.

Disneyland — Anaheim, Calif. 

On Sept. 5, 2003, a guide wheel dislodged from underneath a Thunder Mountain Railroad car, derailing the roller coaster and leading to the death of 22-year-old Marcelo Torres and injuring 10 others. Disneyland took full responsibility for its employees failing to perform necessary maintenance that resulted in a mechanical failure.

Six Flags Over New England — Agawam, Mass.  

A Connecticut man was thrown from Superman: Ride of Steel, one of the world’s tallest and fastest coasters, on May 1, 2004. The man, who was overweight and not properly secured in his seat, flew from the ride sideways after it hit a curve. A State Department of Public Safety report found that the man should have been denied ride access because his weight restricted the lap bar from securing his body.

Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom — Louisville, Ky. 

No longer owned by Six Flags and currently closed for a major renovation, Kentucky Kingdom was once the site of one of the more gruesome amusement park injuries. On June 27, 2007, a cable on the Superman Tower of Power, a 177-foot tower that drops riders at a speed of up to 54 mph, snapped, entangling a young girl. The cable severed the girl’s foot. Not soon after, the ride was closed down for good.

Six Flags Over Georgia — Austell, Ga. 

This one isn’t easy to type, so you might want to look away after this sentence. On June 28. 2008, a young boy jumped over a fence surrounding Batman: The Ride, a massive inverted steel coaster, after he lost his hat on the ride. Ignoring the “do not enter” signs, the boy was struck and decapitated by the coaster.


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