Magical Midway worker dies in fall with harness

Posted Sunday, July 3, 2011 4:39 PM | Contributed by Jeff

[Ed. note: We link to several sources as the details aren't clear. One source even quotes a different age. -J]

An Orlando amusement park is back open after one of its workers died while working on a ride Saturday. A spokesman with Orange County Fire Rescue said Justin Honeycutt, 30, was an employee at Magical Midwaye. He was working on the Star Flyers ride while the ride was closed for repairs. He was about 90 feet in the air when he fell about six feet.

Read more and see video from The Orlando Sentinel, WESH/Orlando and Central Florida News.

Sunday, July 3, 2011 4:47 PM

I'm missing something. He fell 6 feet while in the harness and died? I can only imagine he somehow got it tangled around his neck. A 6 ft fall shouldn't have killed him.

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Sunday, July 3, 2011 5:11 PM

I'm thinking heart attack. Not much else makes sense.

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Sunday, July 3, 2011 5:59 PM

At 30? I doubt that.

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Sunday, July 3, 2011 7:00 PM

What ever happened, it sounds like it was one of those 1 in a million things.

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Sunday, July 3, 2011 7:36 PM

Depending how he fell, he may have suffered a basal skull fracture, or possibly smacked his head on the way down.

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Sunday, July 3, 2011 7:59 PM

Exactly. Who knows how he fell, or what he hit on the way down.

Falls can be scary things. Remember Liam Neeson's wife?

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Sunday, July 3, 2011 10:27 PM

I work for the phone company and have to climb every day whether it be ladder or gaff. We wear climbing belts with a loop of each side of our body belt, with a lanyard. I'm thinking that his footing slipped and maybe he left his belt a little loose, so when he slipped, the belt slipped up causing him to slip a few inches. When that happened, he maybe caught his chin on the lanyard and that caused a reverse hanging. I have seen that happen. Climbing with equipment can be dangerous also.

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Sunday, July 3, 2011 10:42 PM

Jeff, a heart attack is possible even at 30. I had a friend of mine who died in 82 from a massive heart attack at the age of 15. The guy was healthy as a horse played 3 different sports and one day. He had the big one.

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Sunday, July 3, 2011 10:59 PM

I never said it doesn't happen. It's still incredibly unlikely.

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Sunday, July 3, 2011 11:13 PM

There is always that chance though. If the harness didn't have no give when he fell, it could have snapped some bone that punctured some vital organ.

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Sunday, July 3, 2011 11:48 PM

He could have had an allergic reaction to a spider bite, panicked, and then bird pooped onto whatever he was climbing on while he was rushing to climb down, making it very slippery, causing him to slip, fall down, and cut his finger, which caused him to bleed to death, for all we know, Majorcut.

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Sunday, July 3, 2011 11:49 PM

Oh... and my condolences to the family, however he died.

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Monday, July 4, 2011 2:30 AM

Here's a story link which has an eyewitness account. Seems like the ride was not locked out and he was struck by the counter weight when it started moving.

http://www.clickorlando.com/news/28429929/detail.html

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Monday, July 4, 2011 10:03 AM

Unbelievable. If that is in fact what happened, I don't understand how these things continue to happen.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011 2:41 AM

Even with harnesses falls can be a pretty serious thing. Although failing to properly lock things out before working on them seems like such a glaring oversight, yet it keeps happening. Condolences to the family.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011 11:03 AM

Dear amusement park employees...

Lock out - Tag out.

Do it so you don't leave your family behind.

Seriously.

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Dear amusement park management...

Stress to your employees that they must Lock out - Tag out.

Do it so you don't get negative publicity and sad coworkers.

Seriously.

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I mean how hard is it to not make this mistake. Treat what is important seriously. Preventing senseless death is easy in this situation. Really, really easy.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011 1:07 PM

For what ever reason this seems to be a problem in Florida (Disney Animal Kingdom of late). You would think that it's common sense to lock out a ride when you are climbing up into it, especially if you are by yourself. I had it drilled into my head many years ago that if I was climbing up into a spinning frame by my self that the power must be locked out.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011 4:23 PM

It seems that most all of these incidents involve maintenance workers, and ride ops are in the minority, especially when you look at where the instances happen. Having worked with maintenance guys in two completely different companies, and knowing others from various parks, I can't really say I'm surprised. They tend to be very "cavalier" in their attitude around rides, and it seems many don't really follow the rule of thumb in Dave's signature.

The park management can do all they want to try and educate and condition employees, but until the general attitude that seems is inherent in almost all maintenance workers is changed, these accidents will continue to happen.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011 5:36 PM

There are a couple of other issues that may be at play here as well. One of the articles I read indicated that the man suffered broken bones and contusions, which suggest that he got tangled up in something when he fell, or as a cause of the fall. It was also noted that he was apparently following proper procedures.

stogemanmoe, most people who work above 6' in the air are not lucky enough to be linemen, and do not use climbing gear, or even have climbing gear available. The requirements for fall protection equipment are, in my opinion (as one who seldom has to use any of it), scary. OSHA requires a full body harness with a D-ring high on the back for a 6' lanyard which can stretch to 1.5x its original length when it absorbs the shock from a fall. This is the legal requirement, and apparently this guy met that requirement. But I have to wonder if he should have had some kind of a work positioning restraint comparable to a climbing belt, something to keep him from falling off the tower in the first place. And maybe that would not have been practical (we don't know what he was doing up there...) but it sounds like it wasn't the fall that killed him, but the injuries he sustained before, during, or after the fall.

And then there are the twin issues of orthostatic intolerance and the fact that the standard OSHA-compliant safety harness makes self-rescue almost impossible.

I don't know enough about the situation to be willing to accuse anybody of not being careful. All I know is that it is a horribly tragic accident. We've had too many of those this season.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Last edited by RideMan, Tuesday, July 5, 2011 5:37 PM
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