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Tragic Roller Coaster Accident Leads Authorities to Question Ride Safety

17 comments

Roller coasters are synonymous with summer. For thrill chasers, nothing comes close to the speed, dips, and turns of riding a roller coaster. But a series of accidents this summer has officials questioning whether or not these rides are safe. Currently, there are no federal standards for roller coaster safety despite the potential health risks of riding.

The amusement park industry maintains that the chances of getting injured on a permanently stationed ride is 1 in 9 million, but experts warn that with the quick turns and intense speeds of a roller coaster, you can get hurt without realizing it. In fact, tragedy struck a few weeks ago when Army Sgt. James Thomas Hackemer fell from a 208-foot roller coaster in upstate New York. Hackemer was a veteran of the Iraq war and a double-amputee who lost both of his legs to a roadside bomb. Currently, authorities are conducting an investigation into the man’s death and the safety of the roller coaster.

In a second incident in Arlington, Texas riders were forced to scale the Texas Giant lift hill at Six Flags theme park after the roller coaster abruptly stopped mid-ride. The hill is approximately 14 stories high and this was the second time in three days that the ride had to be shut down due to troubling noises. Luckily, none of the riders were injured but were shaken nonetheless.

While there may be no federal regulations for amusement park rides there are ways that parents can protect themselves and their children on roller coasters this summer. First, amusement parks should have their safety records online. Second, always follow ride guidelines such as height and weight recommendations. Also, if you have a medical condition such as high blood pressure or a heart condition, don’t get on the ride. Overall, use common sense and make sure that you are properly fastened in your seat with the over-the-shoulder harness or lap belt.

17 Comments

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  1. debs says:
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    why does everything have to be regulated? death is apart of life…accidents happen..this is very tragic..so sad..but since he didnt have legs could it be its to hard to strap him in safely..i dont know..just asking..

  2. Adh says:
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    What happened on the Texas Giant is NOT A FREAKING ACCIDENT!!!!! Stop feeding the fear mongering. Nothing broke, nothing crashed and no one was hurt. The ride was stopped by the ride operators for specific reasons and it was determined they wanted to bring that train off the tracks. Simple as that, thats safety PRECAUTION – the OPPOSITE of an accident. Ive had to evacuate 2 rides, no big deal at all. Just walked down some stairs. Ive also been stranded on several lift hills, also NOT accidents. No big deal. Stop feeding the fear mongering and do your research sir. You are more likely to suffer a moderate to severe injury at home every day than riding a roller coaster. End of story.

  3. Jason says:
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    I agree with Adh. A coaster train will stop on the lift if the coaster’s computerized safety system believes something is amiss as well as if a human operator believes there is a good reason to stop the ride. This is a safety feature, not something to panic about or sensationalize in the media!

    As far as the unfortunate death of one of our valued servicemen on the ride in New York goes, he should not have been riding that coaster. The restraint device does not work properly for an individual with no legs. A sign should have indicated this fact and/or an employee should have realized the issue before he was ever allowed to board the train.

    I’ve ridden more than 600 roller coasters and traveled more than 2500 miles on roller coaster rails. I’ve come back from the ride safely every time and am certainly well enough to type these comments. I feel much safer on any amusement ride than on the road behind some of the DUI’s waiting to happen exiting some of these parks.

  4. Dorothy says:
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    I do believe rollercoasters r dangerous…love tha thrill but tha operators she be aware of who steps on tha ride..let something happen to me or my kids while we r on them…

  5. rose says:
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    Shut up you roller coaster lovers. It is dangerous n u know it. Stop trying to make it sound as safe as air travel.

  6. Leighton says:
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    And you think air travel is safe!? Wow. You truly are dumb.

  7. Leighton says:
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    And you think air travel is safe!? Wow. You truly are dumb.

  8. Kevin says:
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    wow, the uneducated & misinformed are clearly identifiable here, surprised they even know how to use a computer. For THE record, THE is spelled with an E, not A. And it’s not just lovers of roller coasters, thousands ride them each day during THE summer & very small number actually suffer injuries. Do THE math, you’ll find THE danger isn’t that high.

  9. Pan Ick says:
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    DON’T GET ON A COASTER, YOU’LL DIE!!! SIMPLE AS THAT, JUST LIKE THAT POOR GUY IN NY! AND OUR TAXES ARE TOO HIGH AND OBAMA IS RUINING OUR COUNTRY!!

  10. GF says:
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    Not surprisingly, most of the fear mongerers here obviously don’t know the slightest thing about roller coasters and amusement park safety. That one in nine million statistic is not some stupid number made up by a doped up coaster rider, it’s a fact found by statisticians, engineers, and industry experts. Also fact: you are far more likely to die or get injured on the road to an amusement park than inside it.

    It’s just like gun control. The people who want guns completely banned don’t know the slightest thing about them. Or like the people who want to ban video game sales who’ve never seen a controller or gaming PC in their life.

  11. Dennis says:
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    Just stay at home. It’s safer there! No one gets hurt or dies in their own home. Peace!

  12. FD says:
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    Dear Kevin,

    Thank you so much for your holier-than-thou remarks on THE uneducated and THE proper usage of THE word “THE”. If you are going to be that nit picky, try to remember that THE beginning of a sentence must begin with a capital letter.

  13. dale says:
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    I have only been on roller coasters about 10 times. I had a major problem with the 1 that overlooks Lake Erie, I am the avg sized male 5′ 10″ and under 200 lbs, and yet, I felt myself slipping out of my seat as we went down, it got worse and worse as we went further down the drop. This was about the 5th roller coaster I had rode, and never had I ever felt so close 2 falling out of my seat – I look down and wow – my seatnelt was unhooked in the floor. I checked it before we started and so did the worker as we were just south to start. I told them when we got off about it and they acted like so what, or yeah, whatever. I now see there have been deaths on it before I even rode it where the rider fell out. Never had a prob at any of the bigger places in Cali and FL though.

  14. David says:
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    Don’t you just love the way the media blow things out of proportion to make it sound more sensational. Statistically you are more likely to get hurt staying at home. Thousands die on the roads each year but the press don’t seem to mention that in the same context. It is far more risky crossing the road than riding a coaster. The tragic death at Darien Lake just shouldn’t have happened…the ride has clear signs saying that riders must have two legs to be secured on the coaster. Yes, mechanical accidents do happen, but they are incredible rare…and that doesn’t make them death traps. Get real journalists, making a fuss when safety sensors kick-in on the lifthill is totally daft…it’s a safety feature (which is why riding a coaster is safer than driving, fishing, crossing the road, smoking, etc!)

  15. RJ says:
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    This article is complete bunk. Why all of the fear-mongering? The accident at Darien Lake, while sad, was not mechanical error at all. It was human error on behalf of the operators and the rider himself. The warning signs at the entrance for Ride of Steel specifically state that one must have legs to ride – legs this gentleman did not possess. Without legs, a person doesn’t have a proper lap. Without a proper lap, HOW is a LAPBAR going to work? Easy- it won’t. That is not the fault of the ride itself, and does not make the ride unsafe.

    As for the Texas Giant- PLEASE stop talking about this everyone! THIS IS NOT A NEWSWORTHY EVENT! A roller coaster did what it was designed to do and stopped in a designated safe zone where riders can be evacuated if necessary. Wooooow. Next up on the evening news: Cars emergency brakes keep cars from rolling down hills! Amazing!

    Don’t waste our time and fear-monger. It’s completely unnecessary.

  16. Hannah says:
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    How did the guy get past the height requirement?

    Forget the operator being to stupid to realize legs hold you in, and top-heavy, legless people might go flying out.

    Of course, a tired worker standing in the sun all day might not want to argue with a vet with no legs and face a discrimination suit.

    The news here is that people are oblivious, not that roller coasters are dangerous.

  17. Hannah says:
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    How did the guy get past the height requirement?

    Forget the operator being to stupid to realize legs hold you in, and top-heavy, legless people might go flying out.

    Of course, a tired worker standing in the sun all day might not want to argue with a vet with no legs and face a discrimination suit.

    The news here is that people are oblivious, not that roller coasters are dangerous.