Posted Monday, January 14, 2008 9:42 AM | Contributed by Jason Hammond
In a deposition released as part of a lawsuit against Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom by Lasitter and her family, a 16-year-old ride operator said she heard the loud noise, but was too far away from her stop button, or “E-stop,” to act quickly.
Read more from The Courier-Journal.
I think now more than ever it's obvious the park can't chalk this up to a freak accident. It does seem pretty obvious at this point that there should be sensors that check the tension on the cable.
She said the ride was nearing its peak when she heard the noise, and she was a couple of feet away from her E-stop, so she yelled at the other ride operator — who she said was closer to one — to stop the ride.
If the ride is in operation and you're controlling the ride, your hand should be on or near the e-stop at all times. That should be simple procedure. All eyes should be on the ride when it is in operation. That way you can see and hear the cable hanging there and press the e-stop button.
After visiting Kings Island for the first time this year (I always go to Cedar Point) the fact that 16 year olds are in control scared me a little. Most of them didn't look like they were alert or really knew what to do in case of an emergency.
Should 16 year olds really be able to control a ride? While it is simple to press buttons, there is a lot more visually to take in account than what may be perceived from the average person.
I should also note that I don't think the blame should be pointed at the ride operator, but obviously at the park and their procedures. Along with the disgusting details about that cable not being replaced.
*** This post was edited by gomez 1/14/2008 10:31:00 AM ***
Now Holiday World is the park where the ride ops worry me...
Sure procedure is only as good as it is followed, but that's an issue of the park doing its job to be sure they have the right people in control of their rides.
I also imagine the public might freak out about a 16-year-old at the controls, but then again, do rides get any easier to operate than an Intamin drop tower?
SF and SFKK had better be prepared to just pony up the cash, Disney-style.
- employees are not required to stand next to their e-stop
I really hope the latter is untrue, because I know at Cedar Point we were required to have our HAND on top of the stop button on a lot of rides at all times the ride is in motion. It is a sad reality that this employee may have just been talking to a friend and had her back turned to her post while the ride was in motion. I'm not saying that this is definitely the case, but the whole "I was too far away from my button" thing sounds strange to me.
I agree with what's been said about procedure not being followed. That still falls on the park's supervisors to ensure that the team leaders ARE enforcing safety procedures. Cedar Point made no joke about that and you would definitely be reprimanded if you were not operating the ride according to standard procedure.
After working at CP for two summers I have never felt safer in that park.
If it happened as soon as the cable snapped, my assumption is that an e-stop wouldn't have helped much (other than the girls being stranded near the top of the tower with serious injuries).
Of course, hindsight is 20/20, and all that, and the fact that the ride-op wasn't near the e-stop button really shows (in my opinion) that operation procedures probably weren't being followed. No amount of money will ever be able to compensate for her injuries, but I suspect Six Flags and/or Intamin will be writing a large check in this case.
An e-stop can be used anywhere prior to the ride releasing from the catch car at the top of the tower.
A review of the sequence of events is car takes off, cable snaps somewhere on the way up the tower (apparantly hitting one girl in the head a couple times, as well as another girls feet). Wraps around the victims legs. Car reaches top of tower, cable stays at top with the catch car. As the car drops the feet are yanked off.
If the ride op had to tend to the gate as well, count out the next passengers or whatever, that wouldn't seem unreasonable to me. Coaster operators usually don't watch a train go all the way up the lift, and this is conceptually similar.
I still think there should've been something to check tension on the cable. I think it was suggested that subsequent builds of this ride do have those sensors in place.
*** This post was edited by Fun 1/14/2008 2:07:24 PM ***
Sort of different, but an example I know of is Super Himalaya at CP. Always only one operator and we are specifically told NEVER take your eye off the ride in motion and ALWAYS have your hand on e-stop.
Drop rides generally have a large crew. If memory serves right, there's usually person in control, one or two people loading, and a crowd person who might also work load in between rides. In that case, only the crowd person should be able to walk away and do other things. Two or three sets of eyes are there. E-stops are/should be in each zone where a ride operator should stand while the ride is in motion.
Sure they would have wanted to prevent the accident, but mechanical failure is never the ride crew's fault.
You must be logged in to post