Cause of accident unknown as amusement park reopens

In an update to our last post, the amusement park where a 3-year-old boy died last weekend reopened this afternoon. The park closed after the accident to allow state and local safety personnel to inspect each of the park’s attractions. The park isn’t in this state; nevertheless, Florida safety advocates and public officials are watching closely as the investigation continues.

The roller coaster will not reopen at this time. While all other rides passed the reinspection this week, park officials confirmed that the roller coaster was still partially dismantled to aid in the investigation. State regulators said all of the rides had passed annual inspections and been cleared to operate in mid-December.

These annual check-ups are “nuts and bolts” physical inspections carried out while the ride operates. The state inspector doesn’t clear a ride for operation until he or she is sure that the safety restraints, electrical systems and so forth work properly. The ride must also meet manufacturer specifications.

Shortly after the accident, the press revealed that two other accidents on the roller coaster had been reported to the state. In 2006, a child allegedly hit her eye as she was exiting the ride. She was treated by paramedics at the park. In 2008, another child was taken to an emergency room or urgent care center after he’d bumped his head. The ride had stopped suddenly.

Another incident was not reported to the state (as required by law), but a lawsuit was filed. According to her parent, a girl broke her wrist when the roller coaster cars started to move, catching her hand in between.

While the victim’s parents and twin brother grieve, both park officials and safety inspectors are asking themselves the same question: How in the world did this child work himself free of the safety restraint?

Source: Chicago Tribune, “3 others have been hurt on roller coaster where boy died, reports say,” Robert McCoppin and Lolly Bowean, 04/05/11