Court orders Kennywood not to tamper Whip building remains pending investigation

Posted Thursday, August 22, 2002 4:57 AM | Contributed by PhantomTails

Kennywood has agreed not to alter the site where a woman was killed during a violent May storm until attorneys for the woman's family complete an investigation. The 29-year-old woman was crushed when high winds dislodged the roof of a pavilion on a ride at Kennywood Park. The order follows a notice by lawyers for the family of Stephanie Wilkerson that they will file a lawsuit against the West Mifflin amusement park.

Read more from WTAE/Pittsburgh.

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Thursday, August 22, 2002 5:19 AM

It sounds like they are going to sue, and that's unfortunate. I can't think of any way to describe this other than an act of God. I really can't think of anything that Kennywood could have possible done to prevent the tragedy.

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com, Sillynonsense.com
"Let's stop saying 'don't quote me,' because if no one quotes you, you probably haven't said a thing worth saying." - Dogma, KMFDM

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Thursday, August 22, 2002 5:41 AM
Sad, very sad . . .
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Thursday, August 22, 2002 6:16 AM

Now before we condemn the family for suing, all points of view must be taken into account...Agreed the storm was "an act of God", but the maintenance of buildings are an act of man. If it turns out that the supports had rotted, were undersized or any other factor that would give the structure any further cause to fail, there is liability that the park must face. And if it was "underdesigned" for possible wind loading, the construction company if they created the plans would also be liable.

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Thanks Great America!

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Thursday, August 22, 2002 6:21 AM

But honestly, for Pittsburgh, PA, I'm sure it was designed exactly like every other similar structure. It's very, very sad, but I chalk this one up to "stuff" happens.

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com, Sillynonsense.com
"Let's stop saying 'don't quote me,' because if no one quotes you, you probably haven't said a thing worth saying." - Dogma, KMFDM

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Thursday, August 22, 2002 6:41 AM

I live(d) 5 minutes from Kennywood, and drove through the area in the aftermath of the storm. Given the amazing destruction to the houses in the area, I HIGHLY doubt there's anything Kennywood could have done. That pavillion was very sturdy, but the sudden burst that hit the area really took a toll.

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--Greg
"Now all I want is to find a way home, to warn Earth -- look upward, and share the wonders I see..."
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Thursday, August 22, 2002 8:45 AM

Well, there are plenty of structures that can collapse any time for a variety of reasons. I am not saying that there were not any extenuating circumstances with the "freakish" weather front that passed through, but a prudent thing to do is to examine everything for possible outside influences (such as hidden rot, termite damage, etc) to determine factors in the structure's failure.

On a side note...How old was the current pavillion that housed the Whip?

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Le roi est mort. Vive le roi.
Thanks Great America!

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Thursday, August 22, 2002 9:22 AM
On a side note...How old was the current pavillion that housed the Whip?

I would say it can't be more than three or four years old whenever they moved the Whip to Lost Kennywood.

This was an unfortunate tragedy and a loss of life. The family probably has been going through a rough time this summer and now just someone/something to blame. This will probably be settled out of court.

On a side note, I'm at the park nearly every day and the areas hit by the storm do look better.

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2002 Kennywood Team Member

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Thursday, August 22, 2002 9:22 AM

Keep this in mind:

A microburst can cause more widespread damage than most tornadoes. The winds of this event was around 100 mph and it was a fairly long lived event. I find it very hard to believe this was the park's fault at all

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Thursday, August 22, 2002 9:35 AM

And that's a key point... because if it had been a tornado, something everyone can identify with, there would be no investigation, there would be no lawsuit.

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com, Sillynonsense.com
"Let's stop saying 'don't quote me,' because if no one quotes you, you probably haven't said a thing worth saying." - Dogma, KMFDM

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Thursday, August 22, 2002 10:58 AM

Yea I would think an Insurance settlement would be the best intrest in both parties. There is Insurance to help pay for these things.

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Chris Knight
Whoa I'm the 88984594th Vistor to Coasterbuzz. I wonder what I have won.

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Thursday, August 22, 2002 11:12 AM

Michigan has been hit with several macrobursts in the past as well (anyone remember the "green storm" back in July 1980?)

It would seem to me that if a family can sue due to an inadequately built structure, then why can't people sue builders of homes that collapse in such a storm? Or stores where the glass blows in on customers in a storm?

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I'd rather die living than live like I'm dead

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Thursday, August 22, 2002 11:50 AM
This is indeed a very unfortunate instance, but suing the park for it seems to be the wrong course of action. Only if negligence was involved would a lawsuit be prudent. Unfortunately, the current mindset of people and the greedy lawyers that are arm-in-arm with them says "Sue over every little incident, regardless of whose fault it is." I'm not saying this wasn't Kennywood's fault because an investigation is underway to determine that, all I'm saying is that people sue parks over the smallest of incidents nowadays and it's very sad. I feel for the family in their time of loss, but I can't help but feel like this was just an act of nature. Of course, I'll eat my words if the investigation proves otherwise.
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Thursday, August 22, 2002 12:51 PM
They should also include in their suit that the building was not built to withstand tsunami and Godzilla. For pity's sake.
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Thursday, August 22, 2002 12:54 PM

Here's the problem: what're you gonna "not alter" to investigate?

It's almost three months later, and the ride has been in operation for about two months now.

The roof, supports, all of the debris is in some landfill somewhere, and since the cleanup was done by an outside contractor, I doubt the park would even know where it is.

This is one time when you could honestly say "there's nothing to see here... move along."

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"When I was growing up, we were taught something called manners. You'd understand that if you weren't such an idiot." - Jack Handey

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Thursday, August 22, 2002 2:09 PM

God could not be reached for comment.

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Thursday, August 22, 2002 2:57 PM
kpjb, that is what I was wondering too. They mention the concrete base of the ride but how much can that tell you?

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Thursday, August 22, 2002 3:40 PM

Well Lost Kennywood opened in 1995 so the oldest that pavillion could be is 7 years old.

I feel sorry for the families lost, but it's not right to punish Kennywood for something they have NO control of, the weather.

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Thursday, August 22, 2002 4:41 PM
I know nothing about the status of the debris, but in almost any case of a building collapse (especially one involving loss of life) it is normal to conduct a detailed investigation to determine the cause of the accident. If a relative of mine were killed in such an accident, I would probably have an injunction to prevent destruction of evidence the next day. If I operated the park and maintained my buildings properly, I would also want to preserve the evidence, to be certain that the accident was not caused by an error in design or construction. That's the only way to determine what really happened.

In the case of the whip pavillion, the probable cause of the collapse was a storm that simply exceeded the design criteria for buildings in the Pittsburgh area; but it is important to be certain why such failures occur to prevent future failures. *** This post was edited by Jim Fisher on 8/22/2002. ***

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Thursday, August 22, 2002 7:01 PM

I'm no engineer, but I'm going to guess the cause was the same thing that took down trees and such. Really... what is there to investigate?

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com, Sillynonsense.com
"Let's stop saying 'don't quote me,' because if no one quotes you, you probably haven't said a thing worth saying." - Dogma, KMFDM

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