Girl dies at Six Flags Great America

Posted Thursday, August 17, 2006 9:35 AM | Contributed by etuftedal

A 10-year-old girl from Arlington Heights collapsed and died Wednesday evening at Six Flags Great America. The girl went to the amusement park with her 63-year-old grandmother and her cousins. Witnesses say the girl had been on a ride in the Camp Cartoon Network part of the park, possibly the Spaceley Sprocket Roller Coaster. As she ran to family members, she suddenly collapsed. Later, the release stated, it was learned the girl had a history of heart trouble.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006 9:41 AM
Acoustic Viscosity's avatar What a shame.
Thursday, August 17, 2006 9:44 AM
I saw this on my national news feed. While it's very sad any time a child is taken away, I don't see it as a newsworthy story. If it happened at Walmart, or at home, it wouldn't have been reported.
Thursday, August 17, 2006 10:10 AM
Rick_UK's avatar Sad news. I agree with Downhill Screamer, now alot of people who see that story will think the ride is to blame etc. My thoughts are with the family.
Thursday, August 17, 2006 10:30 AM
Jeff's avatar Agreed that it's sad, but it is true that had it happened at a mall it would've never made the news.

Two things come to mind... why is it considered more news worthy when it's at an amusement park? And if the girl had a known heart condition, why would her family allow her to ride something that would cause intense excitement and stress?

Even more sad, to me, than her death is the fact that kids get dealt these kinds of physical defects at all.

Thursday, August 17, 2006 3:50 PM
Do many of the GP pay attention to the warning signs on coasters and stuff, maybe it's my teenage ignorance mentality, but most people don't really pay attention to things we do right?

It might be more newsworthy at an amusement park because Amusement Parks have this image of being the happiest place on Earth for the most part. Where your supposed to spend your day to get away from all the bad things of the World. Not just at Disney but everywhere.

So when a death happens at one of those type places, its more of a shock and awe thing just because most people don't expect to see that happen at an amusement park.

It also causes a great news story because you've got people thinkning....are these places really safe, and/or is this the happiest place on earth that i went to when I was a kid? etc...

If that makes any sense?

Thursday, August 17, 2006 6:30 PM
stoogemanmoe's avatar That is so sad. That must have been very tramatic for everyone involved. My heart felt prayers go out to the family in their time of sorrow.*** This post was edited by stoogemanmoe 8/17/2006 6:30:40 PM ***
Thursday, August 17, 2006 9:16 PM
Timber-Rider's avatar I do not understand why these kids, and some adults continue to die when there are so many warnings out there. Not only are the warnings posted at the parks, there are also countless news reports of people dying for the same reasons. Pre-existing heart problems...

In fact, a 10 year old boy died at the Ionia free fair in Michigan just a few weeks ago. He was riding the Freak Out ride with his father, and, when the ride ended, he was slumped over pased out in his seat. They tried to revive him, but he died a short time later. The boy had serious heart problems, and, evryone in his family knew he had them before he got on the ride.

I also worked at a carnival, where one of the carnival guys wanted to try one of the new rides that was brought in. (The Typhoon.) Others begged him not to ride it because they all knew he had a bad heart. Another worker rode with him, and, not even a minute into the ride, he had a heart attack.

Luckily, the worker who was riding with him, flagged the ride attendant, and the two of them carried the guy off from the ride quick. There were also peramedics in a booth near by doing free blood pressure checks. they were there in just a few seconds. So he was very lucky.

Very sad.

Thursday, August 17, 2006 10:49 PM
Jeff's avatar The warnings don't mean anything to anyone. How many times have you read them?
Friday, August 18, 2006 5:07 AM
Results from the coroner.

This girl had a pacemaker. I can't believe that her family would allow her to ride even a kid coaster like Spacely's.

Very sad. Makes me count my blessings that my 11 year old daughter is healthy and I don't take it for granted.

Friday, August 18, 2006 9:36 AM
Jeff's avatar Wow... I didn't know they even did pacemakers for such young children. That is so ridiculously sad and unfair. That poor family.
Friday, August 18, 2006 2:44 PM
What a huge dilemma it is for anyone with heart problems. Should they just keep their child at home, always being careful not to allow them to do anything too exciting? That doesn't end up being healthy either, not to mention how sad that person ends up being to not participate in playful activities. To tell a kid they can't run around like kids do is a death sentence of different kind. Sounds like this family did everything they could to try to give a normal life to her.

The press can't seem to figure out how to approach these tragedies in an appropriate way. Why does the name of the park even need to be in the headlines, like that has anything to do with the child's death? The story here has more to do with the dilemma of health conditions and the horrible difficulty of attempting a normal life, and if that attempt is worth the risks.

Unfortunately the more the press focuses on the parks where these rare events happen, the more parks will attempt to turn away anyone with physical conditions. All it takes is one out of a million visitors where something like this occurs and that park's season is tainted with tragedy. How interested does the public want amusement parks to be in their guest's health?

Fun comes with risks, and people get hurt and die every day. To eliminate fun places so people can die privately in their do-nothing, coach potato homes is just absurd. Makes more sense to tell people they shouldn't work because the drive is just too dangerous.*** This post was edited by 8/18/2006 2:55:01 PM ***

Friday, August 18, 2006 6:19 PM
Because people buy fear.
Friday, August 18, 2006 7:19 PM
I can't remember a year where there have been so many heart-related fatalities. I just rode Spacely Sprockets in June and I could see where a family would think it was a benign ride. I believe the layout is the same as Woodstock Express at CP? What an incredibly horrific thing to happen while you're at an amusement park.
Saturday, August 19, 2006 3:49 AM
beast7369's avatar If there is any good in this tragedy, it does highlight a very sensitive issue. Personally the child was old enough to understand the consequences of riding the coaster, if they were taught well by the parents. I do feel very sorry for the family but in some ways at least the kid did die happy and having fun. There has to be some merit in that.

I dont know if I could keep my kid locked up so to speak if this were to happen to them. While I would be sad if they died, I would be happy that they had fun right before they died. At the same time there is absolutely nothing more the park could have done....except have everyone sign a waiver to get in the park...and that is getting ludicrous.

I think this is just one of those times where bad things happen. My prayers are with the family. I do hope that they realize their child did have fun in their last moment of life here on earth. I also hope that they realize the kid could have died doing just about anything semi exciting and that the coaster isnt really at fault here. For all we know she could have been sitting at home and just keeled over just the same. May God bless this family and comfort them in this time of sorrow.

Monday, August 21, 2006 4:46 PM
I think it is terrible that things like this happen but you can't always blame the family memebers for doing nothing.

I unfortunately was diagnosed with a Heart condition known as WPW. I have had it all my life (I'm 20 almost 21) and no one even picked up on it until I was in High School. It was on all my previous EKG's from when I was younger (and I had a lot). I am a big coaster person and I love the theme parks. I do all the rides at places like Disney World and the Six Flags parks. I don't ride some of the rough ones because of other reasons but I still take risks. Anyone who rides a ride is taking a risk. It's not fair to just single out the ones that have the heart conditions. People die all the time on rides and at parks but a lot don't make headlines because they didn't have any specific reason for their death. I agree though, people shouldn't have to stay "locked up" because they have certain conditions. You have one life to live and I would rather be out there every day living my life then stuck in a plastic bubble inside my room.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006 12:28 AM
I, too, am an enthusiast with a heart condition. I have Bicuspid Aortic Stenosis, which causes a heart murmer. Basically, two of the flaps in the tricuspid valve are fused together and don't allow the valve to open all the way. This causes restricted blood flow and excess pressure on the heart. I've had it all my life (22 years old) and I was diagnosed 10 years ago. They found it when I had my physical to play soccer in middle school. I had played soccer at the YMCA for 6 years before that. After I was diagnosed, I was not allowed to have gym class for 7th - 12th grade. I was not allowed to join any sports that involved running or extreme exertion (limited to things like bowling). I was allowed to play sports on a recreational basis though, where I can go at my own pace and quit if I get tired. I definitely fit into the category that should not be riding roller coasters.

10 years later my condition has not worsened (it actually seemed to improve one year) and I've never once felt any adverse affects from it (just the normal shortness of breath that comes from being overweight and out of shape). I've certainly never felt anything wrong after a roller coaster ride. However, this condition is repairable and my cardiologist recommended a valve replacement in a few years..much sooner than originally anticipated. Even so, I will continue to ride roller coasters because I enjoy it.

My point is that people with heart conditions generally do not want that to keep them from leading a full life. There are risks involved with everything we do in our daily lives. It is unfortunate when something like this happens at an amusement park, but it'd be interesting to find out how often this happens when someone flies for the first time, or sees a horror movie, or does anything else to get their heart rate up. For me, if a roller coaster were to be my demise, at least I would have ended it doing something I love. I have a feeling I'm not the only one that feels this way when they ignore a warning sign.

One thing that isn't clear - did she collapse and die from the stress from the ride, or from the running?

My condolences and prayrs go out to the family and the girl.



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