Cedar Point will not change Raptor fencing after fatal accident

Posted Thursday, February 25, 2016 9:02 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Officials at Cedar Point say the park will make no changes in fence height, signage or other safety procedures in response to the death last summer of a man who entered a restricted area under a ride and was hit by an oncoming roller coaster train. The man, 45-year-old James A. Young of East Canton, jumped over two fences in an attempt to retrieve a cell phone he had just lost on the ride.

Read more from The Plain Dealer.

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Thursday, February 25, 2016 9:37 AM

Maybe this is heartless, but really, should they? I feel like the signs and barriers should be enough to deter a person from entering the area. Do they really have a responsibility to build fences high enough to make it physically impossible to do? To me they have a responsibility to make a reasonable effort to inform me of dangers as well as provide some type of device to prevent me from being accidentally injured. Outside of that I have a responsibility to follow the rules.

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Thursday, February 25, 2016 9:43 AM

Exactly. Again, not to sound heartless, but you can't fix stupid. Or a better way to phrase it, you can't stop folks from feeling they are entitled and that rules don't apply to them. You could build a Jurassic Park style electric fence around a ride, if someone is determined to retrieve their precious phone, nothing will stop them. I think CP is in the right here and support them.

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Thursday, February 25, 2016 9:52 AM

How about just digging a little 4-5 foot deep pond just underneath the track sections that are low enough to hit someone, it would keep the feeling of almost being on the ground on the ride and keep someone from being able to stand underneath...could even have a water spray effect?

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Thursday, February 25, 2016 10:24 AM

Then if the coaster doesn't kill 'em they'll be sure to drown.

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Thursday, February 25, 2016 10:29 AM

BrettV said:

you can't fix stupid.

While it may defy the logic and common sense of most who post in this forum, the sad reality is that most jury pools (and courts) currently would disagree with this notion.

In just about all of the risk management claims I deal with at my park, the exposure level often comes down to what more, or different could the park have done to, fix stupid. It is just the way the legal world works currently.

If this guys' family sues, there is no way the case will ever get to a jury trial; as it is almost certain that any jury will come to the opinion that the fence should have been higher.

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Thursday, February 25, 2016 10:30 AM

BrettV said:
. ...You could build a Jurassic Park style electric fence around a ride, if someone is determined to retrieve their precious phone, nothing will stop them.

They'll start testing for weak spots. *grin*

I don't know that these incidents are so much of entitlement issues as they are a combination of factors. Often I think signs saying "no trespassing" or "danger" are frequently interpreted as precautionary, and people don't get the sense that there's really all that much of a true threat. I also think there's an inherent distrust of other people to do the right thing when finding expensive electronics, wallets, purses, etc. Then the person who loses the item is panicking a little because he or she can't afford a new phone/can't contact his or her family/can't remember where the car is parked because he or she took a picture of the section marker, and things get a little irrational (I have to get my belongings NOW before someone steals them).

And yes, stupidity. I'm sure most families would have moments they wouldn't admit to where they say to themselves, "Why was Bob so stupid that day?" It sucks, but even smart people have stupid moments, and in these cases, REALLY stupid moments. However, this is not Cedar Fair's fault, and I don't see anything else they could have done. It's not their job to prevent social Darwinism.

What still baffles me is why doesn't anyone who does this stuff ever diligently watch for coaster trains heading their way? If you drop something crossing the street, you look both ways carefully before going to retrieve it, right? If I'm playing Frogger with a gigantic train carrying 20+ people, you bet your ass I'm watching that train.

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Thursday, February 25, 2016 11:04 AM

waynethexplorer said:

How about just digging a little 4-5 foot deep pond just underneath the track sections that are low enough to hit someone, it would keep the feeling of almost being on the ground on the ride and keep someone from being able to stand underneath...could even have a water spray effect?

Or people could just follow the universal principle of "Hey, there's a fence around this. I'm not supposed to be in there."?

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Thursday, February 25, 2016 11:32 AM

waynethexplorer said:

How about just digging a little 4-5 foot deep pond just underneath the track sections that are low enough to hit someone

It would certainly make evacuations from valley incidents interesting...

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Thursday, February 25, 2016 12:23 PM

I think the thing about these accidents is that they most often involve inverts. And perhaps the hapless victim sees track and knows there's room under the track for him to go, completely forgetting that the train will be below said track, and not above. Hard to believe, (as the person just stepped off the ride, right?) but anymore I'll believe anything out of most folks.

Anyway, the item now is about the fence and whether CP should do their best to make it as impenetrable as possible, or not. In the PD article an expert states that if they run to "correct" the situation for and against future offenders that it might indicate an admission of liability. And if the family of this poor sap is poised to sue (and if so, good luck with that...), maybe the company is best to leave things as they were for now, especially since they were over-compliant in building the fences to begin with.

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Thursday, February 25, 2016 12:59 PM

What RCMAC said. Having made one poor decision ("Huh, there is a fence betwixt me and my phone; I'm jumping over it!") and then another poor decision ("Huh, here is another fence between me and my phone. I'm jumping over it!"), this unfortunate fellow likely paid no attention to the track relative to where he was standing. He was focused on his phone. Several tons of coaster train hurtling along a track tend to make a bit of noise, which I would find alarming were I standing in close proximity to said track, but....

I sell theater tickets in a box office and find myself shaking my head several times daily: the guy who thought the number one in the "number of tickets" box meant he was buying two tickets, the woman in Cleveland who bought tickets to the show in Chicago because she didn't think to read where the show was located -- I can see where someone focused on their lost phone can be focused on that to the exclusion of everything else.

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Thursday, February 25, 2016 2:02 PM

Hanging n' Banging said:
it is almost certain that any jury will come to the opinion that the fence should have been higher.

The fact that Cedar Point could be penalized for not only adhering to the law, but exceeding it, sickens me.

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Thursday, February 25, 2016 8:14 PM

By not changing the fence as it was when the accident happened, Cedar Point is making a pretty bold statement. Cedar Point probably considered some changes and determined that another occurrence was unlikely. Making changes would be more of an admission of wrongdoing or neglect rather than saving the life of a potential future fence climber.

If they get sued, one of their greatest defenses will be that the current fences have worked for the entire life of the ride. It was fine the way it was and it is fine now. This puts all the blame on the fellow who climbed it. I think it's a great move on the park's part.

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Thursday, February 25, 2016 8:14 PM

By making the fence higher, they would be inadvertently admitting that the fence that was there was not high enough or adequate enough.

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Thursday, February 25, 2016 8:16 PM

Jinx, Ohio Stater! LOL

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Thursday, February 25, 2016 8:33 PM

LostKause said:

If they get sued, one of their greatest defenses will be that the current fences have worked for the entire life of the ride. It was fine the way it was and it is fine now. This puts all the blame on the fellow who climbed it. I think it's a great move on the park's part.

I hear ya, and seems like a perfectly good common sense argument. But the legal world doesn't work this way. The "it never was a problem before" argument just doesn't hold that much water in the premise liability realm. And I see this all the time with the claims I deal with.

For a plaintiffs attorney, it's a pretty simply argument. There is a well documented and established history of suspended coasters killing people on multiple ocasions in low zones over the past several decades. This is nothing new and it will be argued that Cedar had a duty and obligation as a major amusement park to understand this, and employ the proper engineering controls to keep an incident like this from happening again. The argument will simply be that CP should have known better and done more.

I'm not saying this this isn't complete BS. It boils my blood. But courts (and jurys) don't rule on what should be morally right, or on common sense, or what they think the "right" answer should be. A good attorney can make a very strong argument that CP had an obligation to be aware of the history of this situation and to make sure it didn't happen on their watch. Thats premise liability 101. Again, I'm just telling you what is going to be argued if the family sues. And I guarantee there are multiple law firms lining up to represent the family so they can get their 40%.

If the family sues, they can expect a decent settlement which will be just another check that the insurance company will happily cut so the case doesn't get to jury trial.

And the sun will rise and set again tomorrow...

Last edited by Hanging n' Banging, Thursday, February 25, 2016 8:37 PM
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Thursday, February 25, 2016 8:39 PM

Cedar Point is making a pretty bold statement.


That being: "dude was a moron."

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Thursday, February 25, 2016 9:18 PM

waynethexplorer said:

How about just digging a little 4-5 foot deep pond just underneath the track sections that are low enough to hit someone, it would keep the feeling of almost being on the ground on the ride and keep someone from being able to stand underneath...could even have a water spray effect?

Crocodiles...

...you're welcome, CP.

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Thursday, February 25, 2016 11:59 PM

The mention of Jurassic Park brought one thing to mind....

"Do NOT enter the Raptor containment area."

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Friday, February 26, 2016 2:41 AM

Lets dangle a cow wearing a harness and let raptor hit it so people know not to go in.

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