Investigation suggests lap bars might not have been checked in Tokyo Dome fatality

Posted Tuesday, February 1, 2011 11:35 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Following last weekend's fatal accident at Tokyo Dome City, investigative sources said there were no specific instructions in the manual about confirming that the safety bar for each passenger is fastened before starting the ride, adding that the confirmation steps had only been taught "verbally" by one worker to another, including part-time employees.

Read more from The Japan Times.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011 11:53 AM

I've never worked at a park/ride, but that seems incredible to me. Securing riders would seem to be 99% of the "critical function" of any ride operator...stuff like dealing with loose articles may be a PART of the job...but keeping riders safe is really THE job. Completely unacceptable. :(

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011 12:52 PM

Obviously, the ride operator was stoned.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011 1:03 PM

Wow... a little too soon to be appropriate, don't you think?

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011 1:10 PM

I'm not trying to make light of the situation - quite the opposite, actually.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011 1:27 PM

I need to sticky this story for all the folks who whined/made light about Cedar Fair employees saying the redundant "Check" when checking restraints...

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011 2:47 PM

I'm not certain this article was all that informative. Just because something is not written in a manual does not mean common sense does not apply. This is not rocket science. Check the darn lap bars. If somebody working there did not heed the advice/training of a co-worker, then safe to say that what is or is not in that manual would have had zero affect on this outcome (assuming lap bar failure is the cause). It is common sense for riders themselves to check their own lap bars...an employee paid to do such and not doing so has no excuse.

The tone of this article seems to indicate that police in Tokyo don't mess around. They are after much bigger fish than an operator who failed to do his/her job. The missing information in the manual seems to be their smoking gun to take this to a higher level than "idiot operator messed up."

I don't know how I feel about this...other than to say it is always prudent to check your own lap bar and to observe those running the rides...and use common sense. It should not take words in a manual to use common sense.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011 2:50 PM

I wouldn't be that quick to assume that checking a lap bar is even necessary. We've all been on rides before where that was clearly not part of their procedure.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011 3:15 PM

I'd add that you shouldn't jump to assumptions about the knowledge of the riders. If you have never been to an amusement park before then why would you think about checking your own lapbar?

I was a pretty experienced amusement park visitor when I rode the Flight Commander. I had never been on anything remotely similar to that and had little knowledge of the restraint system. When I sat down I pulled it over my head and really stapled myself in there...to the point that I was in significant pain. I thought about toughing it out for the duration of the ride but it was also restricting my breathing.

Before the ride got started I got the ride operator's attention (aka screamed for help like a small child) and asked them to release the mechanism and let me readjust.

I share that because I want to emphasize that the passenger should not have responsibility for safety in terms of how the belt, harness, restraint operates. They should, however, refrain from trying to outsmart that device.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011 3:25 PM

Can you imagine trying to securing and checking your own restraints on a Vekoma Flyer, for example?

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011 3:32 PM

not have responsibility for safety in terms of how the belt, harness, restraint operates.

I don't fully agree with that. If a passenger is unfamiliar with anything, they should ask a ride operator before the ride moves. Ultimately, I'm responsible for making sure I'm safe when I decide to ride. Which is not to say that someone designated to check restraints shouldn't be doing their job 100% effectively.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011 3:36 PM

Legally, I'm not sure the riders should bear any responsibility. But realistically, you shouldn't just plop your ass in the seat and blindly expect to be safe no matter what.

As usual, a little common sense goes a long way.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011 3:38 PM

Ok, so are you suggesting that someone riding a Skycoaster should have that level of knowledge? I've ridden one a couple of times and I'm not sure I fully understand the restraint system.

Should a 12 year old have that same responsibility for their own safety? Should the girl nearly killed up in the Dells be held responsible for the fact that she didn't ask if the net was in place?

I think the amusement park/ride operator is responsible for making sure you are loaded in safely. I think you are responsible for not undermining the safety system.

Last edited by wahoo skipper, Tuesday, February 1, 2011 3:40 PM
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Tuesday, February 1, 2011 3:44 PM

No.
Maybe.
No.

But if you're on a coaster and there's nothing holding you in and theere's a big bar that would pull down on your lap still jutting skyward a foot or two in front of you, you have to wonder if something isn't right, don't you?

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011 3:53 PM

Yes, common sense would dictate that you might raise your hand and ask for some additional guidance. Common sense would also suggest that hot coffee is, in fact, hot and one should unwrap a candy bar before eating it but common sense doesn't seem to make much headway with the law.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011 4:04 PM

All legalities aside (and I wasn't really arguing that), spilling hot coffee or swallowing a candbar wrapper have a much lower chance at killing you than a roller coaster or ride where you're not properally restrained.

If I choose to ride something, or let my 12 year old child ride it, I would expect to at least understand that I was restrained within reason, or I wouldn't ride. I have passed up doing things that other people do every day because I neither understand how it works, nor do I want to take my life into my hands. I've never parachuted, bungee jumped, rock climbed, etc.

Personal responsibility.

Should the girl nearly killed up in the Dells be held responsible for the fact that she didn't ask if the net was in place?

For the record, I wouldn't allow my child to participate in that attraction, I myself would not, and my parents wouldn't have let me. Because if you jump 100 feet and expect a net to save you, while paying money to do so, you kind of have to accept some responsibility. And I do think her parents, who legally had the right to sue, are responsible for letting her do it.

"If your friends wanted to jump off of a bridge, would you do it too?"

Last edited by Tekwardo, Tuesday, February 1, 2011 4:06 PM
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Tuesday, February 1, 2011 4:13 PM

wahoo skipper said:
...but common sense doesn't seem to make much headway with the law.

Agreed. Which is why I prefaced my entire opinion with:

"Legally, I'm not sure the riders should bear any responsibility."

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011 4:15 PM

I might also add that we really don't know all of the details. It is a far cry from...the bar was in the upright position and was never even lowered to...the bar was down but did not "click" locked into place.

I'll accept Gonch's premise that if the bar were actually not lowered to begin with then you would think the common sense of the rider would have kicked in. But again, if you have never ridden a ride before...ever...and someone lowered the bar in your lap...should you be expected to lift it up to see if it really locked into place? Why would you know to do that?

And, for the record, I would have never attempted that Dells attraction either. The very first time I saw a picture of it I showed it to my wife and we were both wondering how that thing ever got licensed. As horrible as that accident was...it didn't come as a big surprise to me.

There was actually a fundraiser in my community this past weekend for that young lady. I wanted to stop in but had a conflict that evening.

Last edited by wahoo skipper, Tuesday, February 1, 2011 4:16 PM
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Tuesday, February 1, 2011 4:57 PM

wahoo skipper said:
But again, if you have never ridden a ride before...ever...and someone lowered the bar in your lap...should you be expected to lift it up to see if it really locked into place?

Honestly, I think that if I've never been on a ride before then yes, I double and triple check that the bar holding me in is locked tight. If I've been on a few hundred coasters then I might take that for granted as I've never fallen out before.

I don't know the last time I paid attention to the safety warnings in an airplane, but I guarantee you that nervous first-timers are hanging on every word while I'm looking at what ridiculous items have been added to SkyMall since last time.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011 5:03 PM

Ok, that is a fair point. Does this ride raise to the threshold of "thrill ride" that you might be concerned about being thrown out of it?

Oh, and for the record, I don't like skorts either. If you want to wear a skirt....own it.

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