Latest accident at Six Flags is another safety reminder

Perhaps it’s the word amusement that helps make amusement park accidents seem so devastating. The latest accident I heard about on the news tonight is too awful to imagine and is a reminder to go over safety lessons with teens over and over and over again.

As a parent of a teen, I know that the diatribe of safety lessons may not actually keep my daughter that much safer, but what else is a parent to do? Children get past the point where we hold their hands as they go from one ride to the next.

When they are little, we snap photos as they go in circles on rides that only go in a slow circle. Police cars, motorcycles, boats, fire engines–all with fake wheels and steering wheels that follow each other around and around. We wave at our children and they wave back, thrilled each time they come closer to us and then move further away until they stop and they are with us once more.

Then, the children who were once content to be at an amusement park with us–their parents, are chomping to go off on their own and we let them. We tell them the warnings. We tell them what not to do. We say, “Be careful.”

Mostly they do.

But when they don’t, it can become a nightmare.

Saturday a young man didn’t heed the warnings and set off over fences of the restricted area of the Batman roller coaster at Six Flags Over Georgia in Atlanta to retrieve a baseball cap. That’s one of the theories of what he was doing there where the ride could hit him.

The force was so great that he was decapitated. [see CBS News article.]

I have never told my daughter to not jump a fence at an amusement park. It’s one more item for my list. Maybe it will do some good.

Here is a page from the Web Site Safer Parks that details risk factors for various types of rides to help you and yours be safer this summer if you are heading to an amusement park.

Also, here’s a post Justin wrote in June last year about other ride accidents that points out the importance of safety.

Roller Coaster Accidents: They Happen

The day my daughter was at Cedar Point amusement park at a band competition, one of the rollercoaster trains of the Magnum XL-200 roller coaster ran into the back of another one at the station. It didn’t stop all the way, but this was barely a fender bender. The thing was going only 10 miles an hour. Still, two people were treated for injuries and one had an asthma attack.

Last year, a month after my daughter was at Kings Island with her middle school sports teams, the roller coaster Son of a Beast had a mishap when it abruptly stopped near the station. Then more than 12 people were hurt. Turns out, there was a broken timber.

How often do roller coaster accidents happen, I wonder? I love them and have learned the art of holding my neck with one hand while holding onto the safety bar with the other to keep from jarring my head with every turn. I found a couple resources that list rollercoaster accidents and their causes. lists rollercoaster fatalities and their causes between 1972-1997. Another, Theme Park Insider also keeps track. Because of the accidents, there is a bill, the National Amusement Park Ride Safety Act in the works that would restore the jurisdiction of Consumer Product Safety Commission over fixed amusement park rides, but it hasn’t passed.

For the most, though, part roller coaster accidents happen because the riders make a mistake and not because the ride fails. Whew! My daughter heads to Kings Island this coming Saturday.