The $1000 fine may have been the only penalty the Department of Agriculture was able to apply. Like Gator said, the Civil Suit will be the biggie. At this point, it seems pretty cut and dry that it was 100% Six Flags neglect that caused the accident. But who knows, they may still try and sue the manufacture as well.
Isn't Intamin held at no responsibility due to the fact that SFKK went against the maintenance mandates that Intamin gave in the manuals for the ride, along with the fact that SFKK used cables other than ones provided by Intamin itself?
^A reasonable person could suggest that Intamin failed to design the ride in such a way as to prevent the cables from becoming a hazard in the (potentially? completely!) foreseeable event of the cable snapping. Remember MForce's first snap? Put cables under tension, and it can happen.
In no way am I suggesting that SFKK doesn't look pretty bad right now, or that Intamin would share in the responsibility....but they could. Joint liability. Seems highly unlikely. But with 12 of your "peers", anything is possible. If I were an attorney hell-bent on trying to promote a safer environment in the amusement industry overall, I can't say I wouldn't want Intamin's name on the list of defendants....
If you read the report, you can read all the comments from the main ride operator. When that operator saw the problem, instead of hitting the e-stop, he/she called park authorities on the phone asking what to do! For some reason, he/she was hesitant to hit that e-stop button, although training should have clearly said that is ALWAYS the right thing to do. It boggles the mind how either 1) Untrained these ride operators were or 2) how incompetent and inept they were. Amazing... and so sad.
This reminds me of my own "incident" on that same ride at the end of the 2005 season. I was getting on the ride and the guy next to me was smoking a cigar! I immediately complained to the ride op, and she looked at me like I was just there to cause trouble. She refused to make the guy next to me put out his smoke. So I demanded to be released from the ride, because I did not feel it was safe (or pleasant) to be next to someone smoking on a drop tower ride! I did report the incident, and management told me that the ride op would be fired. But still it shows the mentality of some of the people they get to operate these rides sometimes.... They really need to stress safety and then drill it into them over and over...
Yes, the ride operator had approximately 10 seconds to hit the e-stop button. Although calling the emergency number is probably the right thing to do right away, so the proper people get there as soon as possible. But you would do that after you hit estop. Again there is some gray issue in that people always scream, and even at times people say stop the right due to them being scared. But she did hit the button right after it was released from the top, so she appeared to know that these screams/noises were not normal. And she was calling the emergency number also than. Although usually the default training is hit estop if you think its an emergency or the ride is not acting right, so ideally that should have been her first reaction.
The ride operators could have prevented the serious injury, but I still don't put the majority of the blame on them.
It is a maintenance issue.
I think its hard to argue that if the cables were being properly inspected daily that this accident would have been prevented.
From a ride design standpoint, it seems at least feasible to be able to detect a cable break and have some type of diagnostics and control built in, that would stop the ride if this scenario were to happen. I also would think that if you were designing a next-gen drop ride after this accident, that something like that should be incorporated. If not, have it designed such that if the cable were to break, it would not have the potential to be near passengers, or cause harm.
Although it does at least seem feasible to at least design something now that would detect a cable break and control to stop the ride program, I don't think Intamin really should share much or any of the blame.
There's certainly a training issue involved, but to me in the order of failure, the maintenance issues come first.
The interesting thing about the design of these rides is that they're nearly fool proof when it comes to safety around the thing you most fear, falling to your death, but the cable issues are obviously far from perfect. That's a truth in all of the cable driven rides. When the cable broke on Millennium Force, it shredded the anti-rollback channel toward the base of the list. When Dragster's cable broke, it sprayed fragments on the riders. While it's highly unlikely anything bad will happen when I'm riding, it still makes me a little nervous.
I wonder if at this point the Lassiter family intends to go to trial.
I would think that at this point the Lassiter family is quite ready and willing for trial, and it's up to Six Flags to figure out how to keep that from happening.
It also makes me wonder what the maintenance culture is like not only at SFKK but throughout the Six Flags organization. If this thing does go to trial, it could really really really get ugly.
Backing up a bit...
One of the problems with a ride such as this one is that a failure of the hoisting rope should be No Big Deal™. If a hoisting rope fails, the worst thing that should happen would be for the catchwagon and the car to come zipping down the tower prematurely, the combination being caught by the braking system. I wonder if the absence of a detection system for a rope failure (note that the PLC error log did not indicate any failure detection related to the incident) is because a total failure of the hoisting system should be a relatively harmless failure...that is, the system should fail into a safe condition.
(Later models of this ride do have cable tension switches. Remember, the SFKK ride was the first one built.)
Of course, that completely overlooks the (now obvious) hazard of what happens to the cable itself when it breaks...
Wow, so operators at rides are told to use the E-stop in cases of emergency, but if they are wrong and it is not an emergency, they will be fired? If that is true then it is no wonder they sometimes hesitate! If that is true, then that rule should change at once. Operators should never be fired for doing something like that unless they are grossly out of bounds.
I sincerely hope all parks are not like that, or else I can see many other operators hesitating to use the e-stop button in times when it is really needed...
That ride operator is going to have to remember this incident for the rest of her life, and while she made a bad judgment call in phoning up the emergency line before hitting the estop, in a highly charged situation like that, it is understandable, although heartbreakingly inexcusable. I agree that the ride operators need to have the safety procedures drilled into their heads over and over again until it becomes a verbatim, certain procedure that they follow.
I've been thinking a lot about this vein too: I've noticed that there are SO many brutal/fatal accidents at Six Flags parks. Besides Disney, it seems that the majority of accidents I've read about that have been significant have been at Six Flags parks. Is it that Six Flags has an inferior policy for ride safety and does not train and inspect rides in such a way that allows for greater rider safety (and life span!)? Could it be that these rides, as they become more and more extreme and technologically advanced just invite more problems? Or is it just the fact that Six Flags is such a large amusement park chain that statistically it is just more likely to happen that they have more fatalities and violent accidents? *** Edited 5/31/2008 6:02:53 AM UTC by bunky666***
I haven't heard of too many incidents at Six flags this is the biggest one in about a decade that I can remember on the top of my head. Disney usually have fatalities or injuries not only due to rides but on the riders health issues. This is a unfortunate circumstance and one that the young girl have to endure for the rest of her life along with the ride op and other witnesses of the incident, im sure she would never ever thought walking through those gates that it would be the last day she would be able to walk with her own feet. Makes you think retrospectively about what we take for granted and be blessed that we are able to do the things we do and come out ok.
Yeah, I know what you mean. While I love coasters and thrill rides, there is always that thought going through my head: "Is this the last ride I will ever take?" Sounds dramatic, but it happens, and you never know if it could be you. I'll never stop riding, but you're absolutely right. We take things for granted. I think about all those people that get on rides and try to allow for extra space for more airtime or whatever it is that they're trying to do when they loosen their harnesses or unsnap the seatbelts, and I just don't get it.
If you check out rideaccidents.com, you'll see just how many people have been injured and killed at Six Flags parks. At least two people died on SRoS rides, this poor Kaitlyn Lassiter girl gets her feet lopped off at a Six Flags park, and there are MANY more. I'm not saying Six Flags is an evil corporation that doesn't care about their patrons or anything like that, but I'm just wondering what's up with dat? :)
In talking with ride operators at various parks, Six Flags and others, I think I can generalize that they are not empowered to truly operate the ride. They're empowered to check restraints and push the dispatch button, and that's about it. There is a culture of fear when it comes to doing whatever the operator thinks they should do, regardless of the consequences. That's the first culture change that needs to happen.
The Cedar Fair parks, at least the non-PP properties, as best I can tell do empower the ride operators. They can put trains on and off the ride, stop the lift if they perceive a safety issue, etc. There's no fear that they'll be in trouble for doing so. That's how it should be.
Operators at KI have always been able to stop the lift if needed, and they can add and remove trains on some rides. If the ride uses a transfer switch like on Racer and Beast they can use it, but Maintenance has to be called if the ride uses a transfer track.