Board falls loose on Cyclone at Six Flags Astroworld

Posted Tuesday, October 21, 2003 4:31 AM | Contributed by GoliathKills

Several people are recovering after being injured on a roller coaster at Six Flags' AstroWorld on Sunday. The injuries were reportedly caused by a falling board on the wooden Texas Cyclone coaster.

Read more from KTRK/Houston.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2003 4:46 AM
Jeff's avatar I love how they try to make it sound as if there was a conspiracy to kill people.

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog
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What time does the water show start?

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Tuesday, October 21, 2003 5:04 AM
There are few, if any facts about this but I am starting to see a trend developing that makes me uncomfortable. Are employees given the authority to shut down a ride if they believe there is a problem?

Apparently there was a warning on BTMRR at Disneyland that the ride ops noticed and now in this case there may have been a warning from a guest about this loose board.

Back in the day I worked at a park as a ride op and had a couple of alarming incidents. While working a go-kart ride one of the metal guide rails that keeps the cars from going off the track snapped and resulted in it jutting out into the track area. When I called maintenance to report the probelm I was told to keep running the ride and they would get to it.

Now, had someone hit this obstruction head on it was have caused an accident and potential injury. I actually closed down the ride even though maintenance instructed me not to and I walked to to the Operation Director's office. I told him I would not operate the ride and he could find someone else. Only after he came down and looked at the damage did he support me with the maintenance department.

The other incident occurred on an Arrow Corkscrew. There was a new and alarming sound coming from the bottom of one of the trains. Again I was instructed by maintenance to keep the ride up. A bunch of maintenance guys came down along with some suits and stood next to the fence and watched and listened as we continued to cycle the ride. At the end of the day it was determined that there was something wrong with one of the wheel mechanisms and the ride was closed for a few days.

Again, I have no facts about the BTMRR or Cyclone accidents but I hope times have changed since I was a ride op and that safety is being put first.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2003 5:44 AM
The train had already crested the lifthill by the time the gentleman reported the loose board and there was no way to stop the train .. there are no mid-course brakes on Texas Cyclone.

The ride op tried to maintain professionalism by not over-reacting to the report, but did immediately call his ride manager.

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Panther Modern
SixFlagsHouston.Com
An Astroworld Tribute Site

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Tuesday, October 21, 2003 5:48 AM
Not really enough facts yet to comment about this. Did the guest tell the Ride foreman or a "greeter" or one of many personel on the ride platform. Having worked at a major theme park I can tell you that guests "tell" you all kinds of things. It is very hard to determine what is real and important and what is fiction. Most of the time guests do not know what they have seen or what it's impact may be. The way things should happen is that if a guest tells an employee something of this nature the employee should tell the ride formeman or "driver" who should then, if necessary perform an E-stop or at least not dispatch any more trains. If more than one train is operating, did the guest tell the employee about the loose board after the next train was dispatched ? E-stops are not fun- they can be dangerous to the riders depending on the ride. So you have to be careful there as well. I do not know of a park where maintenence workers can "order" operations personel to operate a ride against their better judgement. Usually operations has the final say in such matters as they well should. My contention is that more supervisors, real supervisors with authority to make things happen should be available at the rides. If such were available then perhaps BTMRR and Texas Cyclone accidents may not have occured. There are some things that you should not leave up to a 18 year old seasonal employee. I hope no one was seriously injured.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2003 5:49 AM
No one was seriously injured. Three people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries and later released.

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Panther Modern
SixFlagsHouston.Com
An Astroworld Tribute Site

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Tuesday, October 21, 2003 5:54 AM
Panther posted while I was writing my epistle. He has great coonections at SFAW and what he said makes perfect sense. One should not assume that Parks are big cold chains and would operate a ride if it is unsafe. I can tell you first hand that if you ever operate a ride and an injury accident occurs- it follows you for the rest of your life. Most ride ops do not want that on their conscience. Thanks for letting me vent-
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Tuesday, October 21, 2003 6:02 AM
Ride ops always have the ability to shut down a ride if they have a concern. I do not know of any parks that do not support that policy, however I can say that you can get pushback from the maintenance department when doing so. You just have to stand your ground.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2003 6:16 AM
Well, my experience was first hand and I am not going to go into details so as to not make assumptions about a park/chain that I was involved with more than 10 years ago.

But, I can guarantee you my examples did happen and I am just stating that I hope times have changed.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2003 6:38 AM
At SFWoA we(the ride ops) have the right to shut the rides down if we fell there might be a problem. If maintence clears us to reopen then we operate. There have been occasions were I called maintence more then once in a day for the same noise/problem i might have heard or seen. All rides management encourage us to do this since we the rides ops are with the rides everyday and usually know what sounds they normally make and the noises or vibrations they shouldnt.

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SFWoA TL 2003!

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Tuesday, October 21, 2003 10:28 AM
Not making light of the accident (or incident depending on what you want to call it), but there are two things in this article that I had to stop and read a few times.

In the beginning of the article it says about the rider who was no injured when the board fell, but was "scraped" when he tried to push the board away. The way it is written, this image of the board lashing out at the rider with razor sharp talons comes to my minds eye.

Early in the article they give a run down of the injuries etc. Later in the article it is stated that by the time the warnings went out, the train was in motion and there was nothing they could do. The next sentence then states that a young girl was injured. To me it sort of reads like this... Park: "By the time the warnings went up, the train had already passed the point of no return and it was to late to stop." Paper: "Oh yea? But a young girl was injured, you evil evil park person you."

As stated somewhere... still early to tell what happened. Basically, sounds like simply a piece of wood came lose (wood that is nailed or bolted to other pieces of wood sometimes does that you know... especially with the vibrations and stress caused by a several thousand pound coaster train rumbling near by every few minutes) and following Sir Isacc Newton's hypothesis, was pulled by gravity and fell downward. A train happened to be in the way. Unfortunate for the people that were in that train. Absolutely. As sensational of an incident as the news report made it sound? Hmmmmm... let me see...

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"I don't believe it!" - Victor Meldrew

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Tuesday, October 21, 2003 12:25 PM
Well, if you just look at SFAW's Cyclone, it is in very poor condition from the beauty it was pre-sfi. Same goes with Cyclone at SFNE. SfI just doesn't know how to treat a wooden coaster, but I do believe this was a freak accident, and the ride will be up in a few days most likely, the same thing Happened on Ghostrider at knott's a few years back.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2003 12:44 PM
I'm saddened this happened, but I'm hoping that it will motivate Premier/Six Flags to dump some money into us for maintenance. They've squeezed all the blood they can out of us it seems without something happening.

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Panther Modern
SixFlagsHouston.Com
An Astroworld Tribute Site

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Tuesday, October 21, 2003 5:36 PM
Some may disagree with me, but I will say it anyway. Many Six Flags wooden coasters need work. They just aren't maintained. Name one that isn't falling apart. If it isn't in disrepair it is reprofiled or ruined with trims as a remedy instead of properly maintaining the coasters. Needed to be said. And yes, I know I'm not a park mechanic or amusement park expert...but as an enthusiast I have noticed trends over the years. Lets compare Riverside before it became SFNE. Riverside maintained its Cyclone and JFK's favorite ride, The Thunderbolt, so much better than SFNE does today. They squeak and shake and run slow...rotten boards abound. Don't beleive me? Take a two hour drive north to Canobie Lake Park. Ride their meticulously maintained out and back Canobie Cannonball. When you ride it you can feel all the blood sweat and tears the park puts into that thing. Smoooooooooth with tons of airtime. My .02.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2003 6:04 PM
In my visits to Astroworld the Texas Cyclone was one of the better riding
woodies I have been on and showed no signs of poor maintenance. This was
probably just a freak accident. I doubt that there is any SF specific
problems here. Cyclone was one of the best maintained coasters at the
park last time I was there.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2003 6:14 PM
palwine...

I can name two that are not falling apart without leaving my home park (SFGAm)... American Eagle and Viper.

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--George H
Currency Tracking Experiment...Where's George.com

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Tuesday, October 21, 2003 6:38 PM
Also let's not forget the Roar twins, they aren't reprofiled, falling appart, or in bad condition.

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Parker - http://www.sfmwzone.com/p_coastercount.htm>>My Coaster Count
www.SFMWZone.com

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Wednesday, October 22, 2003 6:40 AM
Wahoo, I do not doubt your experience as I experienced the same and did not intend to imply that your experience was not true. My comments were not in response to your post directly.

Maintenance tends to give push back most of the time. That is a part of dealing with people with inflated egos, they don't like to be questioned or proven wrong (look at what happens here with some members). There were many instances where maintenance was in the wrong, but nothing was done because their management would not stand up to them. That's when you have to stand your ground and get whomever involved that can solve it. If that means having to go all the way to the VP or whatever the position is at the individual park, so be it. When the day is over, at least you will know that your concern was addressed.

The ride ops are the number one source to know when something is not working right. They work the rides day in and day out. They know all the noises and quirks each ride has. They know how it should operate and have a sense when something is not right. The 2-3 cycles maintenance runs each day does not give them that ability. They can tell when something is broke, but the ride ops can tell it is going to break in some instances. Some failures happen slowly and have indications they are coming, the ride ops can read that.

Although this issue with the board really does not fall into this scenario, I just wanted to say that for the general purpose of how well ride ops are positioned to know what is going on.

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Thursday, October 23, 2003 8:55 AM
SF woodie maintenance seems to vary park by park. SFGAm and SFA do excellent jobs of maintaining their woodies. You may not like the reprofiling on Wild One, but it was done to alter the ride experience to give the park the somewhat milder coaster it needed for the GP, not to avoid maintaining it.

Some other SF parks don't maintain woodies worth a damn. The otherwise very good SFGAdv is an example of poor woodie maintenance.

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Friday, October 24, 2003 10:13 AM
The park I work at takes great pride in trying to keep up with our woodie. Our sprinkler system died this year, so we have had problems with dried, and rotted wood. These are things that every woodie has, no matter what park. Ours goes through about 8 hrs of pre-shift inspection a day before opening and then we get it, that is only if they don't find anything wrong. As good as our coaster is kept though don't get me wrong we have even had a geust this year hit by a piece of the track, he thought it was a bird. Woodies are the hardest ride to maintain for park mechanics. Sorry had to get that out. It could hve just been too much weight in the train to a piece of wood that was fine in the morning inspection, that got bad over the course of the day. And with guests tell the ops that they see something, most of my ops would look take it into consideration but if they did not see something they would continue to run the ride. Oh and yes as a rides manager at a SF park, our ops are trained that if they are not comfortable running the ride to stop and step back until what had them nervous was either explained or fixed.

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Give it to me long, hard, and fast
I will forever be a coaster girl

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