A short history of people getting injured on amusement park rides


The Six Flags Magic Mountain park. (Andy Holzman/Los Angeles Daily News via AP)

Dozens of riders were trapped on a roller coaster for about three hours Monday at a Six Flags park near Los Angeles, Calif., after the ride hit a tree branch that had fallen on the tracks, according to park officials.

Riders on the Ninja roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain were suspended about 40 feet in the air, the Los Angeles County Fire Department told the Los Angeles Times. Four people suffered minor injuries and two of them were taken to the hospital.

The Ninja holds up to 28 people at a time and has a top speed of 55 mph, according to Six Flags. Riders zipping along on the Ninja “narrowly miss tagging land and water,” the Six Flags site says. (The ride is now closed after the episode.)

Amusement parks may seem like places for fun and games, but is that just a ruse to lull you into a false sense of security so you willingly climb into rides that explicitly promise to zig and zag you at a great speed while “narrowly” missing land and water? Maybe. Maybe not. There were more than 1,000 injuries on amusement park rides each year between 2003 and 2010, according to a report prepared by the National Safety Council for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.

Here’s a very recent history of people getting injured on amusement park rides:

A stall and an abrupt stop (2013)

A roller coaster at Universal Studios Florida stopped short last year, injuring a woman on the ride. The injury was considered minor and she went back to the park, but the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit coaster — which stands 17 stories tall — was briefly closed after the incident. Two months later, the same ride stalled, stranding a dozen people for nearly three hours.

Death in Texas (2013)

A woman fell to her death from a roller coaster at Six Flags over Texas in July 2013. Witnesses said Rosa Esparza, 52, had been concerned that she was not properly secured in her seat. A report issued by police in Arlington, Tex., said that there had been problems with the car the woman was riding in. Esparza’s relatives sued the park last fall; Six Flags responded by blaming the accident on the company that made the cars, while the company blamed Six Flags.


Six Flags over Texas in Arlington, Tex. (Max Faulkner/The Fort Worth Star-Telegram via AP)

Toppled stagecoach (2012)

This one isn’t a ride per se, but: A stagecoach fell over at Knott’s Berry Farm in California, injuring three of the riders. People had also been stranded on multiple occasions when rides at the park malfunctioned.

Army veteran thrown from ride (2011)

Sgt. James Hackemer, an Army veteran who lost both legs in Iraq, was killed when he was thrown from a roller coaster at the Darien Lake Theme Park Resort near Buffalo.

Bumper cars in California (2010)

Ten people were injured when two roller coaster cars at the Knott’s Berry Farm park hit each other.

Snapped cable (2009)

Another episode at Knott’s Berry Farm: A roller coaster launch cable snapped, hitting the leg of a 12-year-old boy and also sending debris into his father’s face. The park agreed to a financial settlement with the boy’s family in 2011.

Teen killed by roller coaster (2008)

A teenager who climbed fences and entered a restricted area at Six Flags Over Georgia was decapitated by a ride. Witnesses said that the 17-year-old had climbed the fences to get a hat he dropped while riding the roller coaster. He was at the park with his family, authorities said.

Teen’s feet cut off at Kentucky park (2007)

A 16-year-old was riding a free-fall ride at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom when a cord wrapped around her feet and cut them off at the ankles. Six Flags temporarily shut down several rides to examine them in the aftermath of the accident.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He anchors Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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