Man dies at Six Flags Elitch Gardens

Posted Monday, May 27, 2002 8:38 PM | Contributed by StarCoasters

A man described as "mentally challenged" allegedly released his safety belt and freed himself from the restraints of the Rainbow ride at Six Flags Elitch Gardens yesterday.

Read more from KMGH/Denver.

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Monday, May 27, 2002 7:41 PM
Robodud's avatar Wow... this is definately not shaping up to be a good weekend for the Six Flags chain. My prayers go out to the family and friends of this person. And also to the people who had to witness this horrifying event. :-/

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Monday, May 27, 2002 8:21 PM
Man, that's really sad!!! My thoughts and prayers goes out to him and his family.
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Monday, May 27, 2002 8:22 PM
I feel terrible that this happened. My prayers go out to his family and friends.

As pointed out earlier, this is at least the third death of a mentally challanged individual on a thrill ride in the last few years. This raises some really though questions about the safety of certain mentally challanged folks on rides. What is the answer? These folks, if they want to, should be able to enjoy these rides like anyone else.

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- Peabody *** This post was edited by Peabody on 5/28/2002. ***

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Monday, May 27, 2002 8:52 PM
Why do I move with these deaths of mentally challenged people. I was at PGA when the kid fell off drop zone and then moved out to Colorado. I wasn't at the park but my prayers will go out to his family and aquaintances.
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Monday, May 27, 2002 9:05 PM
What a terrible story. Tapping on what Peabody said, I know they enjoy rides, and can see it in their eyes when they're at a park. He must have been sitting near an end, and if it runs anything like the Beach parks' do (Indiana and Myrtle) then there must have been no time to react whatsoever. It's good to know that the op was on top of it......I just don't know how fast those things can E-stop.
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Brad Sherman
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Monday, May 27, 2002 9:59 PM
I think they should be aloud on, but they should be riding with a family memeber or friend who can watch over their safety.

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Monday, May 27, 2002 10:27 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Here's where I get to look like a bad guy, but...

Maybe there should be some sort of restrictions set for guests who are "mentally challenged". There are already height and weight and general size requirements to ride. There are warnings posted about general health conditions such as heart trouble, back pain and pregnancy. Common sense should prevail and it should be up to the individuals helping care for these folks, but perhaps some "suggestions" as to the nature of the ride and potential dangers of letting certain guests ride.

In a case like this, I see no fault at all on the part of Six Flags - how could anyone?

It works with all types of situations. I have a four year old daughter who meets the height requirement for many rides that personally feel are "out of her league". She's tall for her age and is only about an inch and a half away from being allowed to ride the larger coasters such as Steel Force. Never in a million years would I consider sticking a four year old on a coaster of that size. She's just not ready for it, regardless of park requirements. Maybe the people in charge of providing care for this "mentally challenged" individual should have used some common sense. While amusement parks are among the very safest forms of high thrill entertainment out there, I'm often alarmed at the sheer number of people with the attitude of "nothing will happen" and try to slip smaller children on to the larger rides or pay little or no attention to how a ride (and subsequent safety system, including restraints) works and blindly let children or in this case someone who clearly didn't belong in that situation just hop on these rides with little thought.

Bottom line: use common sense.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2002 3:05 AM
My deepest sympathy to this man's family, but I have to ask the question.......Where was the supervision?? You have mentally challenged people riding theme park rides....why wasn't one of the staff members of the mental health facility riding with them? You can never predict the behavior of someone with mental retardation. I believe this was bad foresight and judgement on the part of the health care workers. With very unfortunate consequences.
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Tuesday, May 28, 2002 4:19 AM
This is tragic, of course.
But I must say I agree with Lord Gonchar and the comments he/she made above.
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Tuesday, May 28, 2002 4:57 AM
Aparently he was only "semi mentally challeneged", so he had to have some knowledge of what he was doing. Maybe he wanted to comit sucicide, maybe he just wanted to get more of a thrill, either way, this is tragic for the family. I am sure that two deaths in two days, and a worker falling while to a check on X-Flight at SFWoA, will prompt some investigations by 20/20 or something on amusement parks.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2002 5:13 AM
john peck's avatar The HUSS Rainbows have an interesting restraint system. Much like a Chance Falling Star, the HUSS Rainbow has several wide seats, each accomodating two riders. A lap bar comes down from a l to a _ (which is mounted on one side) and also acts as your grab handle.

(Do not get this confused with a HUSS 1001 Night which has the same ride motion but the riders sit facing each other and a lap bar comes down on you groin. Ouch!)

Chance requests that you pair riders up. Chance also does not have a mandatory seatbelt, on the HUSS versions I rode, neither have they. (but the article states it did have a seatbelt) Anyway, since the seats are so wide and they dont pair up riders, I can see how easy it is to get out from under your bar and become free. Had he been mandatory paired up, this would not have happened. I just wonder if anyone on the ride tried to stop him.

Now, what should parks do about these in the future? Nothing. The seat is very secure with one or two riders (even though singles get tossed quite a bit) This reminds me of the Shockwave incident at PKD (except his screwing around was intentional..... I assume our little friend got scared and tried to get out). The ride will probally get an un-releaseable seatbelt. since the present one was not effective.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2002 5:55 AM

Elitch's has a no single riders policy on the Rainbow, everyone is paired up.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2002 6:53 AM
I noticed yesterday at PCW on pretty much every ride that there is a restriction stating "You must be in good physical and mental health to ride this attraction". I think I've seen this at most other parks before, but I could be mistaken. My condolences go out to the family of this individual, as well as the families of the park employees killed this week.
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Tuesday, May 28, 2002 7:27 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

jgfama - that would be "he". :)

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Tuesday, May 28, 2002 7:52 AM

john peck said: Chance requests that you pair riders up. Chance also does not have a mandatory seatbelt, on the HUSS versions I rode, neither have they. (but the article states it did have a seatbelt)

The Great Escape has this exact same ride, but doesnt have seatbelts for it eithier. They just want riders paired together.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2002 8:19 AM
The article says nothing about whether or not the victem was riding with someone who was responsible for him, so anything that we say along those lines is pure speculation. Since the victem was a 28 year old man, it is quite possible that he was riding with someone who was responsible for him, but simply not physically capable of stopping him. *** This post was edited by Jim Fisher on 5/28/2002. ***
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Tuesday, May 28, 2002 9:59 AM
The rainbow is a very old ride and is one of my favorites. One person ruined the ride for everyone, and now I bet that the ride will have to be closed or get new restients like PP.
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Tuesday, May 28, 2002 10:25 AM
Does Elitch's ride actually have seat belts on it? Who'd a thunk it; I've never seen seat belts on a Rainbow.

But the presence of a seat belt on the ride is probably a good thing in this case, because to unfasten the seat belt and get thrown off indicates intent. I have long suspected that this is the reason Cedar Point's Ferris wheel has had seat belts for as long as I can remember...you could accidentally pull the door open and fall out, but it's a bit harder to accidentally unfasten the seat belt and fall out.

What I don't get is how he came off the ride. Was he in the front row? At an extreme end? Did he go over the back? Did he run down the stairway at the side of the platform and vault over the door? I always thought it would be quite difficult to fall from a Rainbow just by virtue of the size of the platform!

I don't think this means bad things for Rainbows and Falling Stars. It may mean bad things for outings of groups of mentally challenged individuals at amusement parks, and that would be truly tragic.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2002 10:28 AM
The Rainbow ride at Elitch's does have a seatbelt thay goes accross both riders and they do make the riders pair up.
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