Feds get involved with Wichita Ferris wheel accident

Posted Thursday, April 29, 2004 8:31 AM | Contributed by Jeff

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is looking into the safety of Joyland's 55-year-old Ferris wheel after a girl fell from it and was seriously injured earlier this month. The CPSC does not technically have jurisdiction over amusement parks.

Read more from The Wichita Eagle.

Thursday, April 29, 2004 8:34 AM
Jeff's avatar I don't like the idea of the CPSC getting involved. I'm not entirely sure how they can, legally.

Was this accident really any different from a rider misbehaving on a ski lift? These wheels have been working just fine for decades. Let's think a little about where the responsibility lies.

Thursday, April 29, 2004 10:37 AM
john peck's avatar Of course these wheels are fine. Eli Bridge have done virtually everything to add extra safty in those tubs. In the late 70's, they built those screen-like higher backs that would give the tub more of a seatback and be able to see through, next in the 90's, the added an extra locking pin device simaliar to a scrambler that the operator has to put in to help the bar stay locked, and in the 90's as well, they added the extra bar that looks like this: ___l____l___ whitch is suspended from the main locking hand bar that sits against your lap to help keep you in, not to mention all the DO NOT ROCK stickers posted everywhere. Some parks have gone so far as to install seatbelts.

So basically, Eli Bridge have done everything they can to try and keep riders in if they rock too far, and not totally redesign an 80-year old seat style, but they cant save you from your own stupidity

I mean what do they have to do? Put frigging OTSRs on it????

Thursday, April 29, 2004 10:43 AM
Shhhh....John, Don't go giving them ideas... ;)
Thursday, April 29, 2004 10:53 AM
The article indicates that the restraint opened on the ride. Given the current design of these restraints as stated above, I can't help but wonder if there was failure to update, or a maintenance/operations issue here.
Thursday, April 29, 2004 11:45 AM
john peck's avatar I don't know how much I buy that article. If the bar just "came open", it would have opened one or two inches, but how did it open? If they don't have the new pin I described earlier, not very likely, if they do, really not very likely. And if under some strange force in the universe where it did come open, why did she have to reach so far for it? Theres planty of clearance where the bar can be opened all the way and still not hit any wheel spokes.

My guess is that the kids were putting some sort of pressure on it which caused the latch to give and the bar to fly open, but I don't know that for sure... I wasn't there.

About three years ago I witnessed a some teens rocking their seat on the Eli Wheel at Wyandot Lake, I got the ride opts attention who had already told them to stop, and we both decided they should be taken off the ride, so they were let off and not happy. I of course, noted that to a park manager to tell him of the smart thinking on the ride opts behalf.

Thursday, April 29, 2004 12:00 PM
John, that pin you're referring to is not an Eli standard modification; it is a Wyandot Lake modification as a result of claims that the lap bar opened in that incident. The lap bar on an Eli wheel is secured with a spring-loaded pin that engages with the J-casting (I think that's the right one...) on the end of the lap bar. There are wear standards for the casting and for the pin. Most of the wheels I have seen have some kind of a box covering the release knob for the lap bar.

Thing is, the lap bar on that ride isn't going to just pop open. When the operator pulls the knob to open the bar, the bar won't open by itself, and frequently requires a bit of force to release. The bar has to be forced upward to disengage the casting on the end of the bar from the receiver. If you remove the latch pin entirely, the lap bar should not "just open".

I have my doubts as to whether the bar came open at all, particularly since earlier articles indicated that the operator had yelled at the rider not to rock the seat. I think the open lap bar story is probably a post-incident explanation for how the tub came to be unbalanced. But that is just personal speculation on my part. You could ride an Eli wheel all day long with NO lap bar and still not come out of the thing.

Jeff is correct, the CPSC has no jurisdiction in this case. If the CPSC finds problems, they do not have the authority to force Joyland to make any changes. But they are investigating because they DO have jurisdiction over a large number of similar Eli wheels operating in carnivals that cross state lines, and if they find a product flaw in the Joyland wheel, they can order all the traveling shows to modify or maintain their Wheels accordingly.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Thursday, April 29, 2004 5:52 PM
Seems to me you are still more likely to be hit and killed by one of the trucks hauling a Eli wheel on the road than you are falling from one.

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