California says restraint on Perilous Plunge not adequate (updated)

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

California's agency that regulates ride safety says that Perilous Plunge at Knott's Berry Farm had "inadequate" restraints and that contributed to the accident that led to the death of an overweight woman last September when she was ejected from the ride. The state says the restraint system should be modified to accommodate all sizes of riders.

Read more from KFWB.

Additional information is available from the LA Times.

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Did anyone catch the last statement that Len Welsh, who is California's state special counsel for regulatory development said?

According to the article in the LA Times, he says "That ride needs to be designed so that you don't have to hold on."

Design a ride so you don't have to hold on????? Doesn't that go against all park rules and polices? Every coaster, thrill ride, etc the first warning that you read or hear is that all rides need to keep their hands and arms inside at all times, and to hold on!

I would think that would be a bad idea. Good idea for us coaster people who love to ride without hanging on, but for the regular GP...this is not a good idea at all.


Brian A. Plencner
E-Mail: *** This post was edited by Brian A. Plencner on 3/20/2002. ***

From articles I've read, America is getting a lot fatter, due to supersizing of meals, candy, etc. But, most of these rides are being designed with a European bodyframe in mind. It may cost a lot more, but it's not infeasible to think that one day they'll have to make American versions of ride vehicles if we keep getting as fat as we are.
The word "definitely" is definitely the most misspelled word on the buzz.

While having your hands in the air is banned at some publicity shoots, I have also been to some shoots where it was encouraged. It all depends on the park.

With regards to restraint design, It is virtually impossible to design a restraint system that will accomadate riders of all sizes. The government even admits that its mandated restraint systems of shoulder belts and air bags for automobiles are not suited for smaller passengers and can cause fatal injuries for children and very short adults. I think that I may have also heard of some potential problems for the obese with the systems.

While the big boy seat are a help, there is always goin t be a limit. Manufacturers and parks need to determine what these limits are and enforce them. This is commonly done for height and can also be done for girth.

Here's the key...

"The agency said the Buena Park venue should either change its safety restraints or restrict the types of people who can ride. Mason-Larez weighed 292 pounds, which investigators said was a contributing factor in the Sept. 21 accident."

Enough said!

Al Gore - Pre Election... "These guys work for big business."
Al Gore - Present Day.... "How much does your investment firm want to pay me???

Design a ride so you don't have to hold on????? Doesn't that go against all park rules and polices? Every coaster, thrill ride, etc the first warning that you read or hear is that all rides need to keep their hands and arms inside at all times, and to hold on!

I think that the intent is what if someone were to pass out for whatever reason during the ride or maybe was handicapped in such a way that they could not physically hold on.

I'm chalking this one up to bad operations policy for the ride, with some fault going for a restraint design that can be in a "locked" position only having moved 1 inch. The restraint really shouldn't start locking until it is level with the sides of the seats. The lap bar is there to force riders in a sitting position and to pin them down to the seat so that they are secured and can't fall out. The seat belt is supposed to augment that. Notice now how strict KBF is with restraint checking? Now they will check your seat belt, staple you in and check the lap bar, then make you check your own seat belt by tugging on it. After all that is done, they will say "check" and then move on to the next person.


NoLimits Tournament of Champions now underway at Ride_Op Coaster Productions!

I fully agree with you, Ride_Op. I thought I would be the first to mention it, but you beat me by a few minuteds. Perhaps a stricter locking procedure is all that is needed to satisfy the powers that be. If the lap bars dont lock down until they reach an angle that is deemed safe for any passenger, then the accident *probably* wouldnt have happened. I also still believe that the person was not in or properly in the seatbelt. How does a person slip out of BOTH a seatbelt AND a lapbar if either of them are properly secured. I am not faulting anybody, but it remains that someone is withholding information that would get to the bottom of this whole thing. Was she preoperly fastened in the seatbelt? Did the ride ops Check her? Was the restraint awkwardly engaged, but no one wanted to *hurt her feelings* and dismiss her from the ride? We will probably never know. But there definately needs to be a provision on the restraints that regulates a safely fastened person. The man who said that the ride should be designed so that you dont *HAVE* to hold on is 100% correct. Does that mean you SHOULDN'T hold on ? NO! But if you're not holding on, or lose your grip, you should still be safe.

I've traded in my 2000 Giovanola for a 2002 Arrow X4D :)
My other car is now an Arrow X4D!

PS - Last time I was at KBF in February, the Ride-Ops on GhostRider DID indeed check and tug at each and every person's seatbelt AND lapbar. They went so fdar as to instruct passengers to raise their arms so they could do so.

I've traded in my 2000 Giovanola for a 2002 Arrow X4D :)
My other car is now an Arrow X4D!

I can tell that many of you all have never worked in a legal environment. When you read legal documents, you have to read them for what they say not what they mean.

*IF* the KFWB article is correct and the report *literally* states "park officials modify the restraint system to accommodate riders of all body sizes and weights" then that does not *really* mean that the restraint should be designed to hold both a preemie and a nine hundred pound giant. No, if that was intended, you would see someting more along the lines of "potential riders". By simply stating "riders" that ONLY includes being able to restrain those who you actually ALLOW to board the ride and traverse the course. So a simple "Sorry Ma'am, you're too large." would have changed the status to "non-rider".

Semantics? Perhaps. But we around here go by the letter of the law, not the spirit.



--only a few steps away from being an butthole lawyer...

I agree that some maximum closed-bar position should probably be designated; trouble is, it's rather difficult to implement using Intamin's hydraulic lap bar hardware...perhaps some kind of hydraulic by-pass valve to allow the bar to move until it hits some hard stop someplace......

The second time I rode S:ROS at Darien Lake, I noticed that it would be trivial for just about anybody to, while sitting in an even-numbered row, stretch his legs out and pop out from under the lap bar. I have also noticed that it would be a not-so-trivial accomplishment to do the same thing on Millennium Force, and the two seat configurations appear to be almost identical. The differences are pretty subtle, but the subtle difference may be the difference between ejecting riders and not ejecting riders.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Rideman, that has to due with the seats fronts being raised a bit more, correct?
I don't know if the fronts of the Millennium Force seats are raised a little more, or if it is because the car floor is different, or a little of both, or what. All I know for certain is that on Superman:Ride of Steel, if I sat in the back seat of the car, I could drop my knees and literally stand up under the lap bar...done at the wrong moment that would pitch me right out of the train. Somehow, on Millennium Force the geometry is different and there is no way that I could do that.

It's the reason I wonder what the Plunge boats are like inside, because that could make a difference in how "adequately" the rider is secured. At least I think it does.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Well from what I understand at the front of rides I think it should state if you are over (weight here) and are under the height of (height here) [to create a weight to height ratio] do not attempt to board this ride.

If these people try to complain you can show them it is clearly stated at the beginning of the ride.

"Villain-Once You Drop, The Fun Don't Stop!"~SFWoA Rules In 2002~With SFWoA ANYTHING Is Possible!

Premier has vigorously addressed the range of foot motion issue on their lap bar trains to be certain that you can't lower your knees and slip out from the lap restraint. They have a separate restraint for you feet that keeps tem positioned sell back.
Six Flags St. Louis addressed the "will you or won't you fit" problem on "Batman-The Ride" by placing an actual seat complete with the otsr up at the que entrance. I noticed that it was being used by a number of people, probably sparing them a long wait in line and the definite probablity of being turned away once they got up to the gate.
wahoo skipper is correct. It is not weight that matters. You could weigh 300 lbs. and not have it be a problem, if most of it is muscle. The problem comes from when the person is very obese. While the restraint may lock down, it is not really doing much. The fat can move itself above the restraint, in which case it will actually help/cause the person to exit the restraints. So it is not really a matter of how large the restraints are, the problem is when the restraints will close they won't really do anything. That is why the problem occurs: the restraint closes so nobody thinks there is a problem while there actually is. Two solutions would be to visually inspect the person and decide whether they should be able to ride. The problem with this is obvious: how exactly is the ride op supposed to know what is safe and what is not? This would inadvertantly cause people that would have no problem to be not allowed on the ride, or people that would cause a problem to be allowed on the ride. The second solution would be to impose weight limits. This has the same basic problems: people that would have no problem would not be allowed to ride because they have a lot of muscle, which does weigh more than fat. In both of those solutions, if they were inposed the parks would err on the safe side, so this would make many people that had been previousl able or would have been able to ride to lose that privelage.

-Robert Alland

Because the fat is very plyable a restraint could be touching the person properly from a visual standpoint and they could still fall out because they are not being forced to fold into a seating position. Really a restraint that only begins to lock once it has reached a certain point is the best solution, along with a sample chair and restraint out in front of the ride. That way the fat isn't what is being restrained, the core of the person is. I still think that Intamin should redesign their restraint and seat though.


NoLimits Tournament of Champions now underway at Ride_Op Coaster Productions!

The sample chair and restraint SHOULD NOT be out in front of the ride. It is bad enough that the folks won't be able to ride, it doesn't need to be displayed in front of hundreds of people on the midway.

Find a place behind the scenes for the guest to try it out.

I think people walking by on the midway are far less likely to notice a large person trying a seat out front than if they were trying a seat on the actual train up on the platform. At CP if a coaster doesn't have a test seat and the entrance person felt like someone was borderline (many people will ask, "Do you think I'll fit.") then we were allowed to have them go up the exit to try a seat real quick. If they fit, then they have to come back down and get in the line and if they don't, then at least they know. This isn't real practical if the line is 15 minutes or less, but if it's an hour, then it can avoid someone getting upset.

2001 Magnum Crew

Of course on Magnum you can always ask, "Have you ridden Gemini?" since it's almost exactly the same.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Does anyone know at what point on the ride, she got ejecteD? top of the drop? bottom?.....and i thought thats what the samples seats are for by the entrance of the ride...make sure you fit in the seat...

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