Five-year-old climbs over barriers onto roller coaster tracks at Mall of America

Posted Monday, October 20, 2008 9:41 AM | Contributed by sws

The Mall of America is planning security changes after a 5-year-old autistic boy wandered onto the tracks of a running roller coaster at Nickelodeon Universe. Officials said the boy, who apparently loves rock climbing, was drawn to an artificial mountain on the Log Chute ride. They said the boy ran up the stairs, climbed a security fence, went through a ride tunnel and eventually climbed over onto the tracks of a running roller coaster.

Read more and see video from KSTP/Minneapolis.

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Monday, October 20, 2008 10:43 AM
Morté615's avatar

OK so where are the parents during all this? I really don't think the park is at fault for this one, more the parents. But it is great that they are going to go ahead and decrease the likely hood of this happening again.

Morté aka Matt, Ego sum nex
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Monday, October 20, 2008 10:46 AM
Jason Hammond's avatar

^I don't think anyone was blaming anyone. They're just being proactive. At least this one had a better ending than some of the more recent "People vs. Coaster" incedents.

Last edited by Jason Hammond, Monday, October 20, 2008 10:48 AM

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Monday, October 20, 2008 10:56 AM

That's kind of scary...

I thought it was practically impossible to climb their fences but I thought wrong. Didn't CF (when it was in their control) equip that place with the kind of "grid" fencing that surrounds Dragster?

Monday, October 20, 2008 12:45 PM

I thought so too, but I don't know what changes the current management has done.

Monday, October 20, 2008 12:56 PM
eightdotthree's avatar

"This young child also taught us a good lesson," said Jasper. "We're going to put up an even taller security fence in this area just to make sure, even though this was a one in a million or 1 in 200 million chance, that this doesn't happen again."

Unless it is made impossible to climb over a taller fence sure won't help...

Monday, October 20, 2008 1:07 PM

I think child services should step in and take a look at this family! If you have a 5-yr old, you keep a close eye on him/her, especially in a park like this. Let alone someone with Autism! Bad parenting in my book! My wife has a 12 yr old boy with Autism. He is a handful.

Jerry - Magnum Fanatic
Famous Dave's- 206 restaurants - 35 states - 2 countries

Monday, October 20, 2008 1:47 PM
sws's avatar

"the boy...was playing at a nearby store with his dad and sister"

I'm guessing that was probably the Lego store right next to Nickelodeon Universe. That store is usually packed with kids and families, with the kids building things with the demonstration Legos. Anybody who has raised little kids knows that is you take your eyes off of them for a minute, they can wander off. So ripping on the father is a bit over kill. Now this could have had a tragic ending but luckily did not. Sounds like the kid likes to climb on things and just went off on a little joy ride.

Monday, October 20, 2008 5:15 PM
Kick The Sky's avatar

I have to agree with sws. I work with autistic children from time to time as an assistant martial arts instructor and do not envy the hard job that their parents have to do to keep on top of them on a daily basis. These kids rarely think outside of their own wants and needs. They have an extreme lack of focus.

I think sws was right in saying the child was probably at Legoland and he wandered off. It happens no matter how well you stay on top of an autistic child short of leashing them, which many parents do not have the heart to do.

If a five year old can scale that fence, then it needs to be looked at. That is the bottom line.

Certain victory.

Monday, October 20, 2008 5:25 PM
Alexx Argen's avatar

The article say the boy loves to rock climb. My girlfriends brother has autism and he will obsess over one thing and thats all that he talks about and "knows." If this boy was that obsesses with rock climbing he was going to go up that fence one way or another. Maybe the fence should have been different or maybe the parents should have been watching him more. I dont think anyone is to blame here. The Child is safe and that is what really matters.

Its sad when your best friend asks you the exact running time of a ride. Good thing I didnt know.

Monday, October 20, 2008 5:27 PM

That, and there are other issues to be looked at:

My question is, is it possible that the 5-year-old *did not* scale the fence in question? Is it possible that the kid climbed over a barrier which is a combination of a security fence and other elements. As a climber, he might have found an unexpected route over the barrier which bypasses the fence. The challenge is that "he scaled a security fence" is how 'normal' adults visualize the situation, when in truth, the kid may have come up with something completely different and unexpected.

Unless someone saw the kid go over the fence, I think the entire safety barrier needs to be carefully examined just in case there is a hole that nobody considered.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Monday, October 20, 2008 6:12 PM

I gotta give the kid credit for finding a unique solution. Maybe those who design saftey fences should hire this kid to look for holes in their plan.

Coaster Junkie from NH
I drive in & out of Boston, so I ride coasters to relax!

Monday, October 20, 2008 8:02 PM
LostKause's avatar

Would he have deserved a "Darwin Award" if he had been struck? ...Anyone?

I have spent a little time with a few Autistic kids myself. They were a handful.

I'm glad he didn't get hurt.

Monday, October 20, 2008 8:16 PM

I am glad they found this problem before someone was hurt or killed. Autistic children are a handful indeed. I have worked with a few before and you really do have to keep your eye on them at all times!

For those of you who are trying to yell out "Call Children and Family Services", "Rip this kid out of his home"...blah blah stupid stupid statement... You really should consider what you are talking about. If you haven't been near, around or worked with an autistic person you know nothing. Autistic children are fixated on certain things CONSTANTLY! They never stop thinking about it. If they want it bad enough, they will find a way to get to it.

Seeking thrills since 1997.

Monday, October 20, 2008 8:27 PM
Raven-Phile's avatar

LostKause said:
Would he have deserved a "Darwin Award" if he had been struck? ...Anyone?

For one, he's waaaay too young to qualify for that, and for two I'm pretty sure the Autism voids that out. Troll.

Monday, October 20, 2008 9:58 PM
Jeff's avatar

I think this is a case of stuff happens.

Those two rides, the Orange Streak and the flume, are I assume original rides at the park. I was there a couple of weeks ago and they're very easy to get to, as the video shows. All of the newer, bigger rides use the standard "Cedar Fair fence" that you see at their parks, but the "low" zones in this case are up high and perhaps weren't previously thought of in the same way. I bet that'll change now.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Music: The Modern Gen-X - Video

Monday, October 20, 2008 10:15 PM

Thank god they didn't learn the lesson more tragically . . .

My author website:

Monday, October 20, 2008 10:25 PM

In the future in this and other parks.
Do you think this may start a policy of
stopping the rides if a child is missing ?
While I do not want a child hurt but I also do not want
all the rides shut down every time a kid wanders away from his parents.
I think Holiday World with the watch things is ahead of everyone on this.
Also do you think in the future ride designs will take low zone design into
account (raising the ride so it is impossible to be hit by it even if you are trying) but it may make ride evacuation more difficult.
I understand you probably can't raise an indoor ride.
But my thought is they will have to make it more difficult to enter
all the ride areas at all parks.


P.S. I am glad this child is alright.

Last edited by kevin38, Monday, October 20, 2008 10:26 PM
Tuesday, October 21, 2008 12:43 AM
sws's avatar

From the article: "children wandering off from their parents are reported at least once an hour....this is the first time a child has made it into a restricted area of an amusement ride."

Thus if you shut down the rides every time a child is missing (which is at least once an hour), you basically shut down the park permanently. Although you can't put a price on the safety of children, you need to be practical. I think MoA has been open ~15 years and this is the first time something like this has happened. MoA will now look at its security around rides to help avoid it in the future. Also if kids wander off on an average of once per hour, that would make roughly a dozen kids per day being taken from their parents by Child Protection.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008 8:49 AM

Hopman said:
I gotta give the kid credit for finding a unique solution. Maybe those who design saftey fences should hire this kid to look for holes in their plan.

You know, you really may be on to something here. It's like hiring a thief /consultant to show you how to secure your house or comapny.

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