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Rash of Amusement Park Accidents Raises Concerns

Steve Wagner

A series of accidents raised serious concerns about amusement park safety across the country. Several children were killed or grievously injured in accidents on amusement park or carnival rides. Between August 7 and August 11, multiple accidents in the news highlighted the dangerous side of these common entertainment venues.

  • A ten-year-old boy was killed on a waterslide at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City.
  • Three children were injured when a ferris wheel capsule overturned, spilling them to the ground from 30 feet above. A sixteen-year-old was in critical condition initially but has since been released from the hospital, and a six-year-old remains in serious condition after suffering a traumatic brain injury in the fall. The third child, aged 10, broke her arm.
  • A three-year-old boy was seriously injured when he was thrown from a roller coaster at Idlewild and Soakzone amusement park in Pennsylvania.

On August 16, six children were injured on a scrambler at Ocean Beach Park in Connecticut. All experienced an electrical shock while on the ride, some severe enough to result in skin contact burns. The operator of the ride has said he also experienced an electrical shock while operating the ride.

On August 8, a launch cable detached from Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. Though no one was serious injured, the park has confirmed the cable struck at least two park-goers.

In May, an 11-year-old was literally scalped by a carnival ride in Nebraska. In June, a roller coaster in Scotland completely derailed, injuring nine children and two adults. In Wisconsin, a child and two staff members were injured when a roller coaster car failed to stop and rear-ended another car at Bay Beach Amusement Park.

In short, this summer has been filled with horrific and highly visible accident at amusement parks and carnivals. Parents are wondering whether or not parks are actually safe for their families.

How Dangerous Are Rides?

Statistics show we are more than 20 times more likely to be struck by lightning than to be seriously injured on an amusement park ride. Still, studies show more than 1,000 people report ride-related injuries every year, and over 100 of these injuries are considered serious.

Those concerned about ride safety say it’s difficult to gauge actual ride safety. Oversight is complicated, with fixed-site parks like Disney World falling under state or local jurisdiction, and carnivals falling under federal oversight. Unfortunately, each state undertakes oversight in different ways, with six states failing to take over regulatory tasks entirely. Other park critics claim it’s difficult to study accidents and injuries because parks are quick to settle with the injured or family of deceased park-goers, and they require the silence of victims as a condition of their agreements.

Whether your family’s favorite summer amusement is a local carnival, Indiana Beach, or Holiday World, we encourage you to look closely at the history of safety carried by each. If the unexpected and tragic happens and you or someone you love is injured on an amusement park ride, consult an experienced attorney before speaking with or accepting any offer from the park. At Wagner Reese, our personal injury attorneys can advise you on a course of action that will best suit you or your family. Call us today for a free initial consultation: (888) 204-8440.


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