Posted Thursday, August 10, 2006 11:35 AM | Contributed by Jeff
While video evidence suggests that Hayley Williams was not restrained when she fell to her death from Oakwood's Hydro in 2004, an anonymous letter from an alleged park employee to the family says that the park skipped on shoulder restraints to save money.
Read more from The Western Mail.
I know it's technically the park's liability, but I wonder what the girl was thinking when she was riding this? Didn't she see others putting on seatbelts and pulling down their lapbars? And can't you still pull those bars down once the ride has been dispatched? They're just the standard Intamin hydraulic ones, right? I wonder why she didn't try to restraint herself like the average theme park goer would normally do. She was 16--someone that should have known to pull the bar down--not like a 4 or 5 year old who may or may not know what to do.
*** This post was edited by rablat5 8/10/2006 12:05:15 PM ***
A simple seatbelt connecting from the seat to the lapbar - a go/no go system that Intamin stupidly left off their rides - could have prevented this, just like I've been saying all along. On top of that, those restraints were obviously not adaquate to begin with. To quote the article, "HSE engineer Roger Jones...found he could get out of Hayley's seat even when the lap bar was locked in place."
*** This post was edited by coasterdude318 8/10/2006 12:59:04 PM ***
Lightning Loops (like all of the Arrow loopers) didn't have any sensors on the lapbars either. It's all visual.
Unfortunately, they can't depend on the guest to have "common sense" these days.
Given the findings of the HSE in this case, the restraint isn't an issue anyway, given that the lap bar was never closed and never checked.
Having seen the Knott's version of the ride in question, I am more convinced than ever that the whole ride is a somewhat irresponsible design. It is not necessary for the pitch rate to be as high as it is. But that's just my opinion...
--Dave Althoff, Jr.
I disagree that the restraint isn't an issue. If it was designed properly, it wouldn't (or at least shouldn't) have gone unchecked. Obviously the park shares responsibility here, but I still think it's yet another blunder from Intamin.
"The ability to get out of a seat even with the lap bar down does not necessarily indicate that the restraint is inadequate."
The PTC single-notch lap bar trains are a good example of this. I was able to get out of Wild One (the old trains) once when my bar was locked in the station.
However, Nate, you do have a point. Intamin should have designed their ride to electronically indicate that a restraint needs to be locked past a certain point, ala B&M speed coaster trains. This would have at least ensured that the restraint was down some, though who's to say THAT would have even been adequate, as the girl's size could have negated even this precaution.
My point was that if you can design a restraint that a rider can't easily get out of, then that's what you should do. I think those Intamin t-bars are far too easy to get out of (the complete lack of seats, for example), and there's no reason for that.
I still think that these sensors are not necessary. They can´t open during the ride and the personnel should be fit enough to always close every restraint.
Not the manufacturer should be blamed, but the mentality to save money on staff and their training.
But this is what makes the ride. They just NEVER had the right restraints on the boats. I predicted the death the minute I got off the ride the first time. Plunge always needed overhead restraints. I rode it a few weeks ago and the problem is solved without ruining the greatest drop I have EVER experienced bar none!
Take the pitch away and you have...another boring boat ride. With the pitch you have one of the best rides on the West Coast.
...just my opinion too!
Perilous Plunge should have had OSTRs, yes, or at least better lapbars & seatbelts.
On a related note, I ask you this: On a ride such as this one with an adjustable lap bar, how do you propose installing a switch to determine when the lap bar is "properly adjusted"? When you do that, what you are demanding is that the system require that the minimum allowable restraint position is in fact the minimum position allowable for the *smallest* rider who can possibly ride. You can't base the switch on the safe bar position for a six-foot-tall 250 pound man; you have to base the switch on the safe bar position for the tiniest 4-foot-tall 40-pound kid who is permitted to ride. If it's a hyper-extreme ride for which that scrawny little kid has to be tightly secured in order to prevent her from slipping out from under the bar, then once you set that switch position, you've just excluded all the six-foot 200-pound men from riding. And if you're going to do that, then why did you bother making the lap bar adjustable in the first place?
Perhaps a better idea would be to put a reed switch on each lap bar that the operator has to trigger with a magnet to indicate that he has checked and approved of the lap bar setting. Then you're back to allowing the operator to determine if the lap bar is OK or not, something that the operator can do a whole lot better than an arbitrary switch...
--Dave Althoff, Jr.
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