Man hurt at Six Flags Darien Lake awarded $4 million

Posted Wednesday, March 24, 2004 7:52 AM | Contributed by furm

A jury in Little Valley has ordered the Six Flags theme park chain to pay former Olean businessman Mike Dwaileebe $4 million for the Darien Lake roller coaster accident that has left him with severe back pains and an uncorrectable hernia condition, court officials said Thursday. The man was thrown 10 feet from Superman: The Ride in 1999.

Read more from The Buffalo News.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2004 8:37 AM
rentzy - 'Six Flags argued that Dwaileebe fell as the ride came to a stop because he was too large for the seat's lap-restraint bar to be pushed down far enough to engage.'

If this was Six Flags' argument, they were bound to lose. If the lapbar didn't engage when the attendant pushed it down, why would they have let the man ride? And how is that Intamin's fault?

Wednesday, March 24, 2004 9:07 AM
Correction: Superman - Ride of Steel.
Wednesday, March 24, 2004 9:26 AM
Severe back pain and hernias, vs. lifetime financial security for my entire family. Hmm, I might make that trade.
Wednesday, March 24, 2004 9:38 AM
hello all, this may sound bitter and not nice , but... Riding one of these super coasters, there should be warning and legal clauses to protect the park, stating that if you are over weight, you are riding at you own risk, if you are that over weight, which I am assuming that this person was, you should take more responsiblity for your body and eat less amusement park food and go low carbs? 4 Mill. would buy alot of high fatty excuses , go a diet! First thing to do on your to do list? get your stomach stapled. sorry.
Wednesday, March 24, 2004 9:46 AM
We haven't seen the evidence, but I suspect that Intamin has published specifications on what kind of person should ride. As with Perilous Plunge, which is almost the same restraint, if the person can't fit, the park should not have let him ride. Why should Intamin be held responsible?

I think it has to be emphasized to ride operators that, no matter how uncomfortable or awkward it might be, you can't allow people who don't fit to ride. That moment of embarrassment sure beats the hell out of having someone dead.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004 9:47 AM
but ultimately, if someone gets injured on a ride due to their excessive proportions, and the restraints don't go down, they can hit the park with negligence suits.
Wednesday, March 24, 2004 9:52 AM
John-Your opinion must be based on your own experience. You must have never had a weight problem before in your life. Coming from somebody who has never reached obesity but has always struggled to stay at a healthy weight, I can say that the money was definately justified. Some know that I recently went through a horrific car accident and 4 million dollars would NOT be enough for me to go through it again. It's easy to stand on the outside an criticize within, but until you experience the fear, pain, and uncertainty as well as the lifetime of complications this man will suffer, 4 million dollars is not as much as it should be.

Let's check our insensitivity before we post.*** This post was edited by SFGAMDie HARD 3/24/2004 9:53:18 AM ***

Wednesday, March 24, 2004 10:01 AM
I remember that back then, seatbelts were not on that ride... They were added after that incident.
Wednesday, March 24, 2004 11:16 AM
As a result of that accident the seat belts became standard issue equipment on the trains when S:ROS was added at both SNE &SFA the following year as well as MF.

In a way how can they even say the lap bar failed to "engage" when the system is pnuematic? once the restraints are locked they are simply adjusted to fit the size of the rider...however due to the simplistic design Intamin along with SFDL should've requested lap belts when the ride was first constructed as part of the design.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004 12:24 PM
The accident occurred as the train hit the final brakes going into the station.

Any set of reatraints will have some limitations on the proportions of the people that it can fit. People just come in too much variety. The park has s responsibility to not allow riders on who exceed (or are too small for) the manufacturer's specifications.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004 12:59 PM
But the ride is still safe, right? It was just an issue with a large person?
Wednesday, March 24, 2004 1:25 PM
Our country truly has to watch its diet and slim down. I'm kind of jealous of Europeans who are overall slim. I think Six Flags should not have let him ride if they didn't feel the restraint click.
Wednesday, March 24, 2004 1:57 PM
Vater said: 'Six Flags argued that Dwaileebe fell as the ride came to a stop because he was too large for the seat's lap-restraint bar to be pushed down far enough to engage.'

If that was their *argument*, this really should have been settled out of court....SFI had NO reason to believe this was a "winnable" case...

Wednesday, March 24, 2004 2:25 PM
Maybe no-one can answer this, but HOW could he fall out of the seat after, or even in the brake run?
There is no lateral movement and the ride was basically over.
This is very strange.
Wednesday, March 24, 2004 2:46 PM
As it was already mentioned...Intamin's lap restraints operate on pnuematic systems...the result is an infinate amount of locking positions. It is designed so that it can best adapt to the shape of the person...unlike the clicking system that can come close, but dont give the same result.

I just think they should have had seat belts in the first place...I mean the first time I rode Superman: The Escape I was suprised it didn't. Albeit it doesnt really do much, but how else can you make sure the restraint is "down" enough without sensors and what not.

Thats why B&M's, among others, had the whole two click on Raging Bull and Nitro and three click thing on Stand-Ups (later they added belts so Im not sure if that changed)...all to make sure the restraint was down addition to providing a back up in case something when wrong...*** This post was edited by haiderodes 3/24/2004 2:49:15 PM ***

Wednesday, March 24, 2004 5:46 PM
This also happened before they added that extra trim break / magnetic bracket thingy at the end... too... :-P

I remember hearing on the news that some person witnessed him "fly" out of the train (assuming he had his troubles going over the last EXTREME bunny hill [please don't argue how it's the same as it was opening weekend, because it isn't :)]) you can get thrown pretty easily... i also remember hearing things though that he stood up after the train came to a stop somehow, and the slight *jerk* of the brakes dis-enganging set him off balance and falling, but to me that doesnt make much sense -- again, that was just speculation / what i remember hearing. I know it sounds cruel, but I *DO* however remember seeing the indentation on the rocks below where you can tell a body lay at one time for a bit after the accident until they finally cleaned up and evened out the rocks (a sick thought, but you could see it if you looked).... and it was just after the last bunny hop. I must say he had to have fallen out going over the last bunny hop, based on logical conclusions -- now-adays it would be much easier flying out off the 3rd hill, the last bunny hop *used* to be KILLER....

... didn't mean to bring up that argument again; i'm nt complaining about the ride by anymeans, but yes the magnetic trim thingy magiggy (what exactly is that called, anyways?) did change the end of that ride -- the giant finale is now just a standard ending... they added the trim sometime in june/july, a month or two after opening day in '99.

I agree it's SF's fault they let him ride...

-- alan

Wednesday, March 24, 2004 7:28 PM
My story: I went on a trip to CP this summer, and being larger, I decided to try the test seat for WT. I fit pretty well. The attendent there said I could go on with no problem. And I did (Great ride, btw.) Next day, I tried to ride again, but the attendent said I couldn't ride because the restraint couldn't engage properly. Third day, I go to try again. I try the test seat again, and the attendant once again said I would have no problem riding. Well, I got up there, and another ride op this time, pushed the restraint down a bit, and said I wouldn't be able to ride. Seems a bit fishy to me. Did the seats shrink or did I gain 10 pounds over that night? And an observation I made: they were refusing LOTS of overweight people from WT that week. Usually at least one person every two or three ride cycles was turned away, and they were never particullary obese. Just seems a little wierd to me.

I think this situation is totally the responsibility of the ride op. As said before, if the restraint won't engage, the person is not allowed to ride. The person does not go to an amusement park to be cautious about what rides he can safely ride, its not realistic to think they will, and they really don't know their own limitations as far as size goes, nor do they know the size limitations a ride has. The ride op knows this more that the guest, so the $4 million was justified.

Just my 2 cents.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004 9:12 PM
Sorry if this has been discussed before but, if the restraint never "engaged" then why didn't the sensors show that there was an open restraint. If there was an open restraint woulnd't it be impossible to the clear the train to depart? Or was there some sort of sensor malfunction?
Wednesday, March 24, 2004 9:44 PM
All the airtime on the ride, I'm shocked he wasn't tossed til the end of the ride. This is horrible news but I don't know how on earth anyone could even consider Intamin. The person that is liable for this is the one that secured *or didn't for that matter* his lapbar. I guess this is why we see so many seatbelts these days.

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