Improper bolts blamed for death in Boston fair ride accident

Posted Monday, September 20, 2004 11:33 PM | Contributed by Jeff

A pair of improper bolts caused an amusement park ride to break apart at a church fair in Boston Sunday, killing one person and injuring two others, the Massachusetts commissioner of public safety said Monday.

Read more from AP via Yahoo.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004 8:41 AM
Sad accident. BTW, try working with any other Mass state agency and getting results in one day..... try days, months and even years of bureaucracy. Give credit to those guys for finding and disclosing the cause quick.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004 8:50 AM
Markey now says, "While many amusement park ride accidents are blamed on rider error, initial reports in this case suggest some catastrophic mechanical failure."

What a change in tune...hasn't he always said that ride forces kill people - hence his proposed regulation of the # of G's coasters should have???

Tuesday, September 21, 2004 9:23 AM
I don't think Markey has denied the role of rider error, though he's probably argued that it's overstated. A lot in those statistics depends on how much you think design should anticipate "rider error," especially among young children.

The DPS directive on the Sizzler -- which includes a clear identification of the bolts in question -- is available for download at

Tuesday, September 21, 2004 10:53 AM
I have been a coaster enthusiast for many years, and have followed the news about accidents on this website and elsewhere. While all such accidents are tragic, and usually someone is to blame, the focus that is placed on such incidents is just too much. I know this has been said before, but everyone needs to keep this in perspective. I suspect that perhaps as many as 7 or 8 people died within the state of Ohio in traffic accidents over this past weekend. Is that reported in the Boston Globe? Obviously not, because we know it happens and it's not a story. In contrast, Boston papers have reported on all the failures at Magic Mountain in California. Who in Boston really cares?

Markey is a fool and just looking to make a name for himself. I bet he has placed himself in more danger this very day by travelling to his office than he would ever experience in a lifetime of riding amusement rides. It's just like those folks who worry about the plane crashing after they just drove 80 miles an hour to the airport so they wouldn't be late.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004 12:05 PM
Factory spec is for Grade 5 bolts? In a fairly high stress application? I would have thought they would have used a Grade 8. Doesn't cost all that much more, and gives you an additional safety margin.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004 12:20 PM
Grade 8 bolts are stronger than Grade 5's, but in an application with cyclic loading may be more subject to fatigue and may not be a good as Grade 5's.

Of course the issue here was not the manufacturer's selection of the designed bolt, but the substitution of undersized and "altered" bolts. This is just plain negligent maintenance.

As a general note, about 2/3 of fatal ride accidents are due to mechanical failure or operator error. Only about 1/3 are due to rider error.

Fatalities associated with ride forces are almost unheard of except when there is a pre-existing medical condition. Even then, many of the deaths and injuries that Markey associates with rides are probably not ride related when you read the details. Markey seems to assume that if you have a stroke 3 days later it must have been the ride that caused it. He also attributes one stroke to a near zero force ride when the victem reported having a pounding headache while in line.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004 2:29 PM
phoenixphan :-)'s avatar If I recall correctly was there not another accident on this type of ride earlier in the season? Maybe there is a creeping problem that Wisdom should consider checking further into, although I am sure that from the sounds of the article that maybe its the shows that are trying to save cash by cutting corners. It just proves that the Eli Bridge Scrambler is a better and more sound ride (at least I have not heard of anyone getting killed by one.)*** This post was edited by phoenixphan :-) 9/21/2004 2:31:19 PM ***
Tuesday, September 21, 2004 2:57 PM
Does Sizzler go faster than Eli's scrambler? It seems like it does?
Tuesday, September 21, 2004 4:23 PM
True, you don't buy bolts for an this type of ride at your corner hardware store, which apparently somebody did. Frankly, I really don't like any of Wisdom's flat rides. I have a problem with their design and how they are built.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004 8:34 PM
Man this stinks two deaths now in MA in one year.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004 11:05 PM
stoogemanmoe's avatar The Sizzlers are rim driven right?
Wednesday, September 22, 2004 12:32 PM
They use rubber tires instead of gears (which is what the Eli Bridge Scramblers use).
Thursday, September 23, 2004 9:23 AM
Dutchman, Jim...someone once explained to me that a grade 8 bolt can supply a higher clamping force, but a grade 5 bolt is stronger in a shear load condition. I have no idea whether that is true or not. I thought bolts were ONLY designed for clamping.

phoenixphan:-), there was a fatal accident on a Scrambler earlier this season, though that one was clearly rider misconduct.

I'm just a little bothered that a couple of bad bolts would be enough to allow the seat insert to go crashing through the outer tub shell and sailing down the midway. I can't help but think that there is more to this than has been revealed.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Thursday, September 23, 2004 6:08 PM
Jim Fisher, Where did you get these figures?

not to be argumentative, just out of curiousity. Also, did the man fly out, or did the seat fall through the bottom like Rideman said?

Sunday, September 26, 2004 4:59 PM
Rideman, now that you bring it up, that sounds about right. The higher the grade the higher the tensil strength. In other words superior clamping qualities. They are not designed or intended to supply shear strength. That is the job of the structure itself. A grade 5 bolt while lacking the tensil strength of the 8 is more plastic, i.e. flexable in certain applications, and can absorb shear loads to a point. I know some manufactuers prefer using tempered pins in these applications rather than threaded fasteners. The reason being that ideally, once a fastener has been torqued, it should not be reused, as the material has been stressed.

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