Serious Injuries at Amusement Parks Stack Up This Summer

A spate of amusement park injuries has been reported in recent weeks as summer comes to a close.rollercoaster2

Most recently, it was reported that a 3-year-old boy in Pennsylvania was seriously injured after being thrown from a roller coaster that was not equipped with seat belts. According to local news affiliate WPXI, the child was at Idlewild & Soak Zone with his family. The ride is reportedly 27-feet high at its maximum height, but was built in 1938 without seat belts or other restraints. Young children who were at least 36-inches tall were allowed to ride, but only with an adult present. Riders 48 inches or taller could ride solo. The boy was reportedly riding with his 5-year-old brother. It is not clear why the rules of the ride were not being followed, or even if they had, what that might have done to have prevented the incident. The child was being treated at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

The ride was shuttered immediately and will remain closed for the duration of the investigation. Officials did say the ride passed a private inspection a week before the accident, though that doesn’t necessarily mean the ride wasn’t defective or the operator wasn’t at-fault.¬†

That incident occurred just days after a tragedy in Kansas wherein¬†10-year-old was decapitated while riding down the world’s tallest water slide on a raft with two adult women in Kansas City. The death of the fifth-grader, the son of a Kansas lawmaker, raised a number of questions, including:

  • Did the child meet the required height and weight requirements? (Each raft needed to add up to at least 400 pounds);
  • Was the child properly secured in the raft? Did he somehow loosen or fasten his restraint?
  • Did the ride somehow malfunction or fail?

That particular park has been sued three times for personal injury claims since 2014, though none of those cases were related to the slide. That ride will reportedly remain closed for the rest of the season and officials have not finished their investigation.

The day after the horrific events in Kansas City, three girls were thrown some 40 feet to the ground from a Ferris Wheel in Greeneville, Tennessee. The girls, who are 6, 10 and 16, fell when the car reportedly experienced a mechanical problem. Although the girls survived, the youngest of them was suffering from seizures and a severe concussion after the fall. It’s unclear at this point whether she’ll make a full recovery.

North Carolina has been no stranger to these types of incidents. In fact, the very same operator of the ride involved in the Tennessee incident was also involved in a high-profile carnival accident here three years ago.

You may recall in 2013 when a Georgia man operating a ride at the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon in connection with an accident in which five people, ages 14 to 39, were injured when the ride started unexpectedly as people were getting off. Inspectors later learned critical safety features of the ride were compromised after they’d been tampered with. The ride’s owner was also arrested for assault with a deadly weapon.

A $150 million personal injury lawsuit filed by four of those injured persons against the operator of the ride, the owner and the park settled out-of-court for an undisclosed sum.

As a recent analysis by CNN noted, it’s tough to say exactly how safe amusement park rides are or whether safety is improving. Although park owners will point to improved engineering, others note that parks are increasingly designing rides that are faster and more radical, in order to meet the expectations of thrill-seekers. The National Safety Council reports that in 2014 (the most recent year for which numbers are available), nearly 1,150 people suffered ride-related injuries in the U.S. Of those, 111 were deemed “serious.” These numbers are based on surveys that have been conducted annually since 2001.

Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Pennsylvania roller coaster closed indefinitely after child, 3, falls off ride, Aug. 12, 2016, WPXI

More Blog Entries:

Deadly Hot Air Balloon Crash Raises Legal Questions, Aug. 6, 2016, Winston-Salem Personal Injury Lawyer Blog

Contact Information