Man without hands denied ride at Six Flags Over Texas

Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2012 10:07 AM | Contributed by Jeff

A North Texas man said Six Flags Over Texas staff told him he couldn't ride the park's roller coasters because he does not have hands. The park maintains that it meets ride manufacturer and ADA guidelines.

Read more from KXAS/Dallas-Ft. Worth.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012 10:13 AM

Unfortunate as the situation is, the park is in the right. We saw what happens when a park makes exceptions at Darien Lake, and a guy paid with his life.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012 10:29 AM

The park simply cannot risk the potential consequences SHOULD something happen.

I still maintain that there isn't a ride-op in Earth qualified to make a decision about whether physical impairment X is a go/no-go situation. When the patron enters the park with a speicific disability, the decisions re: level of impairment and what rides are OK should be made by management-level staff (went with a friend who had an arm cast a few years back, and the rules varied WIDELY from park-to-park).

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012 10:41 AM

The requirement for hands I suspect is largely rooted in what happens when you have to do an evac from the ride. It's probably not safe to have someone without hands descend a lift, and it's probably worse if a train were to randomly valley somewhere. I don't think one could realistically argue at that point that the entire course should be ADA compliant.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012 11:36 AM

Reading the comments with the article, I get annoyed at the idea that people should be able to do whatever they want, whenever and wherever they want, and the rest of the world exists solely to make that possible. And to guarantee that nothing bad ever, ever happens to us. Reality sucks, but it tells us that there are limits to what we are able to do, even when it's because of something that happened that wasn't our fault.

The comments that "they" should install a shoulder harness on one seat just so this guy could ride one day a year. Yeah, sure.

I agree with your assessment, gator, that people with special needs should go to someone in management to determine what they can and cannot do before it gets to the point where someone waits in line for an hour or an 18 year old has to make the call regarding a person's medical condition. But again, that goes back to my first paragraph-- if the guy thinks he should be able to do anything he wants, he's probably not going to want to hear otherwise from anyone.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012 11:53 AM

But Jeff, there's plenty of instances when we see guests who can't walk at all, whether it be from a broken leg in a cast, a recent surgery, or even a physical birth defect, be brought up the exit ramp, or the elevator now, in a wheelchair and then helped into say, a ride like Magnum. Say that ride were to need an evac, aren't they just as much of a liability during a walk-down as someone with no hands? I'm just playing devil's advocate here. I actually believe the park was in the right to refuse ridership, but I think it could stem more from the inability of the rider to hold on to anything to brace himself during the ride than what could happen should an evac should occur, especially with how rare those are.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012 11:55 AM

"What can I ride/not ride" might be something good to know BEFORE paying admission to get into the park. Problem prevention beats problem solution - every time.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012 12:33 PM

rollergator said:

"What can I ride/not ride" might be something good to know BEFORE paying admission to get into the park. Problem prevention beats problem solution - every time.

So is it the man's responsibilty to find out or the park's to catch people as they're enterting?

Shouldn't be surprised to learn that I put the responsibility on the individual. I mean, if we can't let an 18-year make the call at the ride, why would we let them at the gate?

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012 1:16 PM

I would say it's the patron's responsibility, but in the interests of top-notch customer service, the business would be well-advised to offer some guidance/assistance. I mean, if you have people at the gate determining what is acceptable attire....then I don't see where that "manager-type" person couldn't serve two purposes (dress code and possible safety issues). It's not like half the people entering are sporting a cast or prosthetic...

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012 1:44 PM

Bird Of Prey01 said:

Say that ride were to need an evac, aren't they just as much of a liability during a walk-down as someone with no hands?

I don't think I would agree. Someone in a cast can at least hold on to rails and hobble down, even if it isn't very speedy. Someone entirely wheelchair bound, without the use of their legs at all, well, you've got me there. I'm not sure I'd be comfortable with allowing them to ride.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012 2:47 PM

There are policies that say if a person is unable to physically get into a ride vehicle themselves without help from staff, they shouldnt be allowed to ride, but I agree, the adolescents that typically man these rides shouldn't be forced to make the decision. Actually, I am having trouble explaining this, so here is an example:

I saw a severely, SEVERELY handicapped little girl who was nearly unresponsive in terms of functionality that was carried by a family member onto El Toro, strapped in to the seat next to the family member, the family member hugged them close and tight, and away they went. The little girl came back in one piece, but all I could think of was how much of a liability this was and how devastated the family would be to lose this little girl if something should happen. She couldn't walk, couldn't use her hands, couldn't even turn her head from what I could see. And El Toro of all coasters? It is not a looper or a flying coaster or something where a family member couldn't assist in restraining her, but it is in no way a safe coaster for someone like that. I think the family was wonderful for trying to give her the experience, but it should have never been allowed. The ride ops may have been told ahead of time that they were to give this little one access, but that was a bad call and shouldn't have been made by the operators (if indeed it was their decision). Jeff had it right when he said SF made that call before and it cost someone his life. Twice actually. There needs to be rider responsibility AND strict, consistent policy on board.

Last edited by bunky666, Wednesday, June 13, 2012 2:49 PM
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012 3:44 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
So is it the man's responsibilty to find out or the park's to catch people as they're enterting?

Shouldn't be surprised to learn that I put the responsibility on the individual.

I like the theory, but in practice it fails.

A park knows (or should know) what the safety requirements of its rides are, an individual who doesn't work for every ride manufacturer simply does not posses this knowledge.

It has to be the entity that posses the knowledge--the park, in this case--that is the party to act.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012 4:14 PM

How does it fail?

The park has made a determination on what physical abilities a rider must possess and has made that information to the public. Just because a patron neglects to seek out that readily available information, doesn't mean it's the park's fault for not telling him until he was about to ride.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012 4:25 PM

One might be able to argue that the park could be more proactive, but that's where it ends. You can't argue that they should just let him ride anyway.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012 4:44 PM

Captain Hawkeye said:

I like the theory, but in practice it fails.

Except that you took it out of context.

The question was:

Should the park be responsible for stopping every potentially handicapped person at the gate or should it be the responisibilty the potentially handicapped person to stop at the gate and make sure they can ride?

The responsibility should lie in the individual's lap.

It has nothing to do with knowing about park regulation & the law and everything to do with knowing you're handicapped in some way.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Wednesday, June 13, 2012 4:44 PM
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012 5:15 PM

Gonch,

Right now the way the ADA is the park can't stop them, as they'd be considered discriminating against the patron. Now, if the park guest wanted some sort of ability to access a special access lane or get information then the park is able to assist them. So, even if an employee was trying to be proactive and help the guest out by directing them to a special access area or whatever without being prompted the guest they'd be labeled as discriminating against the guest.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012 5:27 PM

That's exactly what I'm saying. The park can not be responsible for determining everyone's handicap as they walk into the gate. At the very least, it's a nightmare logistically and opens then up to potential legal issues.

The individual needs to understand they are disabled and take the personal responsibility to check with the park to find what limitations they may face inside.

(Maybe it will stick the third time I say it, huh?)

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012 5:32 PM

Randy, it does seems like the parks have a serious no-win situation on their hands. I was thinking about that earlier. If the parks act with caution and with documented case proof of the dangers of riding high intensity roller coasters with disabilities (I know the wording of that is a little wonky, and I'm sorry), they're discriminating. If they allow everyone to ride with no "discrimination", then they get sued for negligence. The only thing I can think of is that the parks make people with disabilities of this severity sign a waiver (or have a caregiver sign in the example I made) releasing parks from liability should injury or death occur. However, this almost seems like it could be considered discriminatory as well. Plus, it seems cruel. Plus, if something were to happen as a result of a person still riding after signing a waiver, it would traumatize fellow riders and employees. There is just no easy solution for this.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012 5:39 PM

Another key component here I think is what the manufacturer has listed as it's requirements to ride. Generally speaking, each ride manufacturer will provide the park with an "owners manual" so to speak. Usually this covers a lot of upkeep and maintenance type content, but especially in rides that have been built within the last decade or so they have a portion dedicated to rider restrictions. The folks making the ride/ride units don't want to get sued anymore than a park would so this portion helps for liability issues obviously.

If the park allows someone who doesn't meet those ride manufacturer restrictions to ride when the ride manufacturer has given the park literature on that exact subject things get extremely tough for the park legally.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012 5:46 PM

Lord Gonchar said:

That's exactly what I'm saying. The park can not be responsible for determining everyone's handicap as they walk into the gate. At the very least, it's a nightmare logistically and opens then up to potential legal issues.

The individual needs to understand they are disabled and take the personal responsibility to check with the park to find what limitations they may face inside.

(Maybe it will stick the third time I say it, huh?)

I agree completely. Having worked at an (unnamed) park last summer, I never saw it firsthand, but have no doubt it happened. It's down to the guest deciding what he/she is capable of riding, but it seems that many people, or their families, refuse to see how their disability/limitation could possibly prevent them from riding, even when the ride signs specifically say which conditions make it unsafe. If they ARE told no, it becomes lawsuit city, even though the decision not to let them ride might have been the right one to make. The parks are seemingly stuck between a rock and a hard place.

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