Roller CoasterRoller coasters are built to scare us. However, they are supposed to scare us in a way that is controlled. They should be exhilarating, terrifying, accelerative- but ultimately safe. We ride roller coasters in order to feel like we're being hurtled through space in chaotic fashion, but we expect to be calmly rolled back into station after the ride's designated time is up. So when disaster strikes, it blurs a line between designed thrills and the different sort of chaos that sometimes results when all rules are not obeyed.

That was the case last week when an East Canton man foolhardily went traversing prohibited grounds in attempt to retrieve some of his dropped goods. Rules were not obeyed. At Cedar Point’s well-renowned Sandusky location, while riding the famous Rapture roller-coaster, 45-year old area man James Young lost the contents of his pockets. Such is the nature of gravity and pockets without zippers. Despite clear and abundant signage warning customers against exactly this sort of waylaid exploration, James Young mantled over a fence and went searching for his belongings in the dangerous sub-coaster area. Part of the Raptor’s appeal is the high-velocity to which its trains ascend. Couple that with the corkscrews, loop-de-loops and sudden chandelles, and it’s not hard to imagine how Mr. Young was blindsided and struck by the coaster. At 57mph, and built of steel, the force was too much and the impact was, tragically, lethal. The only silver lining to the whole ordeal was that none of the riders involved were injured.

The Dark History of the Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

The Cedar Fair Entertainment Company is a multi-establishment entertainment conglomerate that owns and operates many water, theme and amusement parks across the country. Cedar Point, where the above accident took place, is the second-longest continually-running amusement park in America. Unfortunately, there is a dark side to this otherwise fun-loving company. Many accidents have taken place over the years. However, as the previous account sets-up, and as the following list of incident summaries will go on to prove, the overall fault is shared between theme park operators and the park-goers themselves; sometimes corporate negligence is to blame, and at other times it is a customer's failure to adhere to safety protocol that causes accidents.

Here are some instances of accidents of various cause:

  • In 1984, on the Cedar Creek Mine Ride, a young boy fell from his coaster car during a 30ft. plummet and fractured his skull. This incident seems to establish a neutral ground between the binary of blame outlined above. Sometimes, even when safety equipment is properly engaged by workers and regulations are followed by customers, accidents still happen.
  • In 1998, a man was killed in a manner similar to James Young, though at California’s Great America. He was struck by the legs of a rider as he sought to re-attain belongings he’d dropped while riding a roller coaster. This man, however, spoke only Spanish. The signs in the area were written only in English and so he was unaware of the danger that awaited him. This is an easily rectifiable problem, one that could’ve been avoided had the signs been translated into more languages, catering to a wider customer base.
  • In 1989, two boys leaped out of the Logger’s Run ride, also at California’s Great America. One of the boys died. Certainly blame cannot be leveled at the park for this incident. Unfortunately, the naïveté of young and foolishly adventurous boys was responsible for this tragic event.
  • In July of 2004, metal debris was expelled forcefully from the launch cable of Cedar Point’s Top Thrill Dragster ride as the coaster was deployed. Four passers-by were struck by the high-speed metallic scrap, though all survived. Two were treated on-site and the others brought to a nearby hospital.
  • In 2013, at the Cedar Point location, a water-level calibration error led to one of Snake River Fall’s boats to jump from its water-track.
  • At the Carowinds location, two trains on the Thunder Road ride collided, possibly due to a sensor malfunction.

As you can see, there is a lot of gray area when it comes to the fault assigned in roller coaster accidents. What’s more important than determining blame in each isolated incident is, in the opinion of Kaplan Lawyers PC, that the powers-that-be work together with the individual park operators to keep thrill seekers informed of the rules. If those rules are then enforced stringently, we believe less accidents will occur. In this scenario, everybody wins.

Kaplan Lawyers PC

Roller coaster accidents are incredibly rare. Which is fortunate, because nothing is so disheartening as the stark contraposition between the bright, raucous merriment of a theme park and the grim alternative scene endured by those left to grieve after unspeakable tragedy. Have you or a loved one been injured at a water park or amusement park? Has your day of fun turned into a day of misery because of the malfeasance or neglect of a proprietor? If we can prove that negligence had a hand in your injuries, we may be able to win you compensation. At Kaplan Lawyers PC, we have a team of compassionate and knowledgeable attorneys adept at proving just that. To learn more about your rights, contact us today, and we'll schedule a free consultation.