Man falls from new ride at Knoebel's Amusement Resort

Posted Friday, June 13, 2003 5:55 PM | Contributed by CoasterBGW

Tense moments at Knoebel's Amusement Resort Friday afternoon after a man fell from the park's newest ride. It happened around 2:30. The man was riding the Scenic Skyway, a chair-lift that takes visitors into the park. The lift is similar to one found at ski resorts.

Read more from WNEP/Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

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Friday, June 13, 2003 7:53 PM
I am surprised his chaperone(s) let him board the ride by himself. I have read horror stories involving panic attacks suffered by mentally handicapped individuals while riding amusement rides. This is very unfortunate.
*** This post was edited by stopher 6/13/2003 11:54:50 PM ***
*** This post was edited by stopher 6/13/2003 11:55:47 PM ***
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Saturday, June 14, 2003 6:09 AM
We'll have to wait and see if it was a malfunction or if it was rider error. I also hope he's going to be ok. It doesnt say if he died from the fall or if he is just injured.
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Saturday, June 14, 2003 6:13 AM
Although I am sure officials from the Center are in shock over this, I would place the blame on them. You don't let someome who is mentally handicapped ride alone in such an open ride as that. We have see that too many times.

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Saturday, June 14, 2003 7:59 AM
The most local newspaper for Knoebels also has a story- click here.

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If at first don't succeed, find out if the loser gets anything.

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Saturday, June 14, 2003 9:22 AM
Dear Everybody,

Before jumping to conclusion on whose fault this may have been, (ther rider, park's, or Center's), please be aware that "Mentally Challanged" can refer to a wide range of definitions and abilities. He may have had the cognative abilities of a 13-14 yr old or as low as a 7 year old. He may have panic'd on the way up or just tried to lean over for a better view. He may even have a higher functioning ability than some of us who actually post on this site. Mentally Challanged does not automatically construe that someone should be hidden from society to protect them from the same risk you and I face each and every day.

Please remember that the recent accident on the Raven was found to be the result of poor decision making on the part of someone who was supposed to be "normal" (if there is such a thing).

Any accident is truly unfortunate and no one ever sets out to get hurt. Let's just be thankful that aside from some broken bones he will be all right.

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Every coaster is a labor of love that begins as a gleam in someone's eye!

*** This post was edited by Spirit in the Sky 6/14/2003 1:32:25 PM ***

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Saturday, June 14, 2003 9:50 AM
Well, I just got confirmation that the guy definitely did jump. My friend from London was at Knoebel's on the ski lift and saw the incident happen. I just got a text message from him this morning. He said they watched the air ambulance fly in and they gave statements. They weren't told of his condition yet either. they're not sure if he survived the fall so he must've been in pretty bad condition.

On to the mentally challenged part. We don't know how mentally challenged he was, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was pretty bad. Working at Cedar Point, I saw people from centers put extreme cases on Raptor. It was always on AARC day, when I think park operations had too many Special Access passes to grant. We would often question it, but had nothing really to do. I saw them put people on the ride that could barely hold their head up, and couldnt' control all their bodily functions, but park op OK'd it. I also saw quite a few be completely fine until that train was pulling out of the station, then they'd freak out. It was always the center people putting them on the ride too, most often because there was someone a bit better in the group that did want to ride and had enough awareness to show it. I always thought AARC day was a great thing at the park, and I always enjoyed working it because you could see the joy and excitement so much more on that day. But at the same time, you worried about some of the people that had the OK to ride.

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Saturday, June 14, 2003 12:41 PM
I wonder if this ride will be open next Wednesday when I go.

Man, this is a real tragedy. Very, very sad. Thank God he's alive. That thing is really high.

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Sunday, June 15, 2003 9:20 AM
I believe the ride is back in operation again already.

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"If you make it too smooth, it'll be like sitting in your living room."
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Sunday, June 15, 2003 10:31 AM
I actually happened to be there when this occured, I was up at my campsite,however; I heard the helicopter for the man fly over around 2:30ish. The sky ride was closed the rest of the day friday and it reopened Saturday. I believe it was a 43 year old man from what the newspaper had to say about it. Also, the ride was not at fault. The cause was undetermined.

I hope the man is okay and that it doesnt hurt Knoebels reputation at all.

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Sunday, June 15, 2003 8:57 PM
Pete's avatar This incident shows the very different culture between amusement parks and ski resorts, in closing the ride for even one day. I was at a ski resort where a teenager fell off the lift. The lift never closed, instead riders above could watch the ski patrol put the person on the sled, and then shovel some snow over the blood stain. It seemed like the victim had a broken leg or injured knee, along with a cut caused by the ski. They treated it as just another "wipe out".
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Sunday, June 15, 2003 9:52 PM
Yeah Pete, it's almost funny. Someone falls off a ski lift at a ski resort, no biggie. Someone falls of a ski lift at an amusement park, suddenly its a dilemma and the ride has to close and inspections have to be done, etc. Sheesh people- its the same thing! **Done ranting** ;)

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If at first don't succeed, find out if the loser gets anything.

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Monday, June 16, 2003 5:41 AM
A few comments:

1) The Scenic Sky Way: A scary ride for those who do not like heights... a mild relazing ride for those who do not mind heights. If a person is prone to panic attacks, I can see where this may cause one. Believe me... I do not like "unsecure heights" and I was white knuckled most of the way up the side of the hill... I think imprints of my clenched fingers were left in the bar. While 30 feet is not all that high... since it goes up the side of a large hill, the illusion of height is much greater.

2) "Mentally Challenged" person riding alone: Not going into all the clinical implications of this, but if he was in fact a person with a 7 or 8 year old's mental capacity, I can see where he may have paniced (see note 1). Two years ago my wife and I took our then 2 1/2 year old neice to Dutch Wonderland. She was fine on many of the rides... but when we got into the boats that went through the botanical gardens near the back of the park, she was fine at first, but half way through the ride, she decided she wanted out and we had to do all we could to keep her in the boat until the ride was over. Not a panic attack, but her 2 year old attention span said "Alright, I've had enough of this... I think the ride should be over.. I am getting out." Her 2 1/2 year old view of the world didn't let her realize that "No, you have wait until the end." Not comparing this person to a 2 1/2 year old... just using those thought processes for comparrison.

3) People putting "extreme cases on Raptor... some who could barely hold their head up": Not sure of other rides at Knoebels, but on Phoenix and Twister there are signs that state (in so many words) "While it is very rare, this ride may stop because of technical difficulties and the riders may have to exit the ride vehicle and climb down the lift. Employees are not resposible (or even really permitted) to carry riders. If you don't think you are physically capable of evacuating the ride on your own power, maybe you want to think twice about riding." The actual sign is much clearer and concise (not to mention much more polite), but that is the meaning. Not sure what the Scenic Sky Way has in way of a warning like that (after all, how are you going to "walk down" from a ski lift chair suspended 30 feet above the ground)... but when it comes to people who are not physically capable of "evacuating" rides on their own, where does the responsibility lie? Knoebels has taken a "it lies with the rider" stance with these signs (the legalities of responsibility may or may not end with these signs... I am no lawyer), but they are there as a disclaimer. Question is, if a person is not physically capable of evacuating a ride on their own power (with out "endangering" someone else to perform a rescue), should they be riding? This is just a thought addressing the Raptor comment from above. It is really a moot point with the Scenic Sky Way incident. A person who is "mentally challenged" may be quite physically fit. "Mentally Challenged" is not something that may be readily noticable when a person steps up to board a ride. If the person is 40 something but functions as a 5 year old, perhaps it is... if the person is any age and suffers from acute and uncontroable panic attacks, they could appear as any other rider while boarding.

Bottom line... The employe loading the ride does not know the "mental capacity / state" of the person boarding... a person who is with the group does. It should be their call in my opinion. At the very least, this person should not have been riding alone.

Thus ends this dose of un-PC thoughts.

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Kind of hard to take a post as objective if a park or coaster name is part of the "user name"*** This post was edited by SLFAKE 6/16/2003 9:43:20 AM ****** This post was edited by SLFAKE 6/16/2003 10:53:05 AM ***

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Monday, June 16, 2003 1:19 PM
I was e-mailed by Knoebels stating this: RE KNOEBELSThank you for your interest in Knoebels! After immediate investigation by the PA Bureau of Amusement Rides and the PA Dept. of Labor & Industry (which chairlifts fall under), they both determined that the ride was not at fault in any way. They both cleared the ride to begin operation, which it did at 9:00pm that night. The 43 year-old guest that was in the accident did not fall off, he lifted the restraint and jumped off. Knoebels Also on WNEP 16 (A Local Newsstation) they have said that the person did indeed jump and that he was ill in the mind. Two men who were watching him were in the car behind him yet they were supposed to be in the same car with him. He is listed as stable condition and officials say that he was the car not more then 10 seconds when he lifted off the bar and jumped. They also said that he was at the park many times before and loves the park and he is NOT scared of hights.
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Monday, June 16, 2003 3:32 PM
Sounds like a suicide attempt to me. Pretty shocking stuff.

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Deja Vu is down again. For some reason I feel like I already experienced this......

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Monday, June 16, 2003 9:19 PM
CobraRoller, I'm sure it wasn't a suicide attempt, but sounds much more to me like he simply changed his mind about wanting to ride and decided to hop off. Or something along that lines. Suicide in this case makes absolutely no sense at all if you were checking out some of the facts about the type of person involved.

And the two people who should have been riding with him should be ashamed of themselves.

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Sometimes it's up. Sometimes it's down.
But with God, life is one thrill ride that you'll never regret being on.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2003 6:20 PM
Either way, it's still a horrible thing that happened.

Sorry, Sir Willow. I really should have read the thread more closely. :)

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Deja Vu is down again. For some reason I feel like I already experienced this......

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