Family of Cyclone accident victim sues NYC following death

Posted Thursday, October 30, 2008 10:06 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Keith Shirasawa was descending the Cyclone's first hill when his neck snapped and he fractured several bones in his neck, a suit filed in Manhattan Federal Court charges. He died five days later. The suit also alleges inadequate maintenance and an "antiquated" lap bar contributed to injury.

Read more from The Daily News.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008 10:12 AM

Nothing about their suit makes sense. How does your neck just snap when going down the hill? Heck, what does the lap bar have to do with your neck?

Was it determined that he had bone deficiencies or anything that could have cause his bones to snap with much less force than for a normal person?

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Thursday, October 30, 2008 10:14 AM

They've got a case for the neck injuries, especially if others suffered the same injury. Whether or not it led to his death, I suppose, would depend on the autopsy results.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008 10:17 AM

It doesn't sound like others suffered the same injuries (or even similar). I see a big difference between the neck and the back.

And of those who were injured, how many had pre-existing pain that was exacerbated by riding the coaster?

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Thursday, October 30, 2008 11:50 AM

Sounds like a strong case to me. The victim (apparently) was following the rules of ridership and did nothing wrong. It sounds to me like the case is fairly well established; it will be up to the city to prove that there was something extenuating (like an abnormal physical condition such as weak bones or whatever) that invalidates its culpability.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008 1:28 PM

Damn you and your overzealous use of larger than overage words, Mike. That's just ostentatious. :-D

I guess I could see how the Cyclone could injure someone, but that's part of the fun.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008 2:01 PM

Oops. I didn't mean to go all inty-lecktual on you . . .

Next time I'll try to use short words. ;)

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Thursday, October 30, 2008 3:21 PM

^"You and your big words....and your small difficult words." Normally I'd look for a pre-existing condition, but the others with *similar* injuries over the same time-frame seem to indicate that somthing wasn't working right on the ride when this happened. Sympathies for the victim(s) and their families.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008 6:19 PM

The first I heard of this was in another forum which posted an article from Newsday[url][url]. The first line in that story that got my attention was that something had failed to cause the ride to come down the first drop faster than normal, and that this has been fixed. That immediately set off my crap detector.

What I do know is that the Cyclone is a brutal ride, and it appears to me that there are sections where the track is not constructed properly nor is it supported properly. That is the only explanation I can come up with for the [url="http://capital2.capital.edu/admin-staff/dalthoff/adventures/tr2008/
pic/shore/bounce5a.mov"]violent bounce in the dips. The plaintiffs also don't make a very good case in the Daily News story for what is wrong with the "antiquated" single position lap bar. The only problem I have with it is that it is too @!#$! tight (note: I rode after this incident) and serves to couple the rider to the seat so snugly that it is impossible to take advantage of the padding and to remain decoupled from the violence.

Based on the two rides I took on the Cyclone this season, if it's any indication of how it was running in 2007, I think this family has a legitimate case. No ride should run the way the Cyclone runs.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008 10:14 AM

Here's a link to a link of the complaint...

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/tortsprof/2008/11/more-on-the-cyc.html

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Sunday, November 2, 2008 10:53 AM

What I want to know is how can a roller coaster that never had head or neck supports supposed to have them put on? As long as the cars are safe, why would that be necessary?

Just curious.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008 10:56 AM

In the article that Jeff linked to, the blogger discusses the possibility (or lack) of a trim brake right after the lift. Why would there be one there in the first place? Doesn't the lift act as its own block brake?

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Sunday, November 2, 2008 6:15 PM

I thought the coaster was a historical landmark? If they add or change anything, the ride would loose it's historical status and then could be (unfortunitly) torn down.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008 11:32 PM

You don't know what you're talking about. Being a landmark doesn't protect it for anything. The owner can do whatever the hell they want with it.

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Monday, November 3, 2008 5:28 AM

You're right. I'm just thinking how Hotel Breakers ost it's status after they did a renovation.

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Monday, November 3, 2008 12:52 PM

a_hoffman50 said:
Doesn't the lift act as its own block brake?

Good question. Maybe the folks at Cedar Point have a good answer. ;)

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Monday, November 3, 2008 1:03 PM

Trims after lift = Mean Streak.

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Monday, November 3, 2008 4:42 PM

If there were other people who suffered neck injuries during the same portion of the ride then I would say this family has a strong case. Also, if something caused the train to go down the drop faster than noraml or faster than it should than this is obviously a problem. A person has an expectation that their neck isn't going to snap while riding a coaster. All the lawyers on here can chime in here please and shed some light on this concept. I have read before that you "find your victim as they are." Does this have an effect on pre-existing conditions? How would it apply here? Just curious.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008 1:41 AM

Herc had a trim after the lift as well - it's not completely unheard of. On Cyclone, however, there's never been one AFAIK. Just the block brake. This concept of "going too fast down the first drop" is hocus. There was likely a *really bad* spot of trackwork. I'm sorry for anyone injured while the coaster was not operating properly. Dave, your crap detector is working fine, and I hope you get to enjoy Cyclone *as intended* sometime sooner rather than later.

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