Oakwood Hydro victim was not restrained, letter says OTSR's skipped on cost

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.

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Thursday, August 10, 2006 11:37 AM
While I wouldn't put a lot of stock in the letter, since it doesn't prove that the restraints were inadequate, it's disturbing that they dispatched the boat without her restrained. It's more than disturbing, it's outright disgusting. I guess we can finally rule out rider misbehaviour.
Thursday, August 10, 2006 12:01 PM
I'm with you, Jeff. We know that the restraints are adequate (except for the severly obese, as Perilous Plunge and SFDL's SROS have indicated), but for a park to dispatch the ride without ensuring that everyone was restrained--what kind of park does this?

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 ***

Thursday, August 10, 2006 12:14 PM
If I was on a ride and realized that my restraint was secure I'd make it known in whatever way possible. Are there people who don't check their own restraint?
Thursday, August 10, 2006 12:36 PM
So these Intamin restraints don't trigger sensors like the other ones do?
Thursday, August 10, 2006 12:54 PM
Which restraints are you referring to? As far as I know, the only Intamin ride with sensors on the restraints is Xcelerator, and Cedar Fair added them themselves.

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 ***

Thursday, August 10, 2006 1:54 PM
^You don´t need a sensor for every lapbar IF the policy and manufacturers advice to always close all restraints before dispatching a car/train/boat is followed.
Thursday, August 10, 2006 2:09 PM
rablat5 - it's happened before, in the Lightning Loops accident at SFGAdv. The woman who was killed sat down in a seat where the OTSR was already down. The ride ops did not check the restraints individually, relying instead on the sensors that said all the restraints were down. The woman didn't get out of her seat, and the train launched with her completely unrestrained.
Thursday, August 10, 2006 2:22 PM
I didn't say that all restraints need sensors. In fact, I pointed out the opposite - almost none of the restraints out there have them.

Lightning Loops (like all of the Arrow loopers) didn't have any sensors on the lapbars either. It's all visual.


Thursday, August 10, 2006 2:55 PM
I never said that it hasn't happened before. I said what kind of a park does this? They should have had better operations and safety precautions in place so that things like this don't happen.

Unfortunately, they can't depend on the guest to have "common sense" these days.

Thursday, August 10, 2006 4:18 PM
The ability to get out of a seat even with the lap bar down does not necessarily indicate that the restraint is inadequate. It does, however, suggest that further investigation may be warranted. If the rider can extract himself from the seat, that is one thing. If the forces exerted by the ride can throw the rider from the seat, that is something completely different.

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.

Thursday, August 10, 2006 5:15 PM
If a restraint is pulled down as far as possible and locked a person shouldn't be able to escape from it. That's what makes a restraint a good restraint. Sure, responsible behavior would call for a rider not trying to get out of the restraint. But if you can plan for that and prevent it, then why wouldn't you?

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.


Thursday, August 10, 2006 5:22 PM
I agree with Dave on this part:

"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.

Thursday, August 10, 2006 6:50 PM
Ah, but that wasn't my point. While I think such sensors are a good thing, I don't believe they are necessary. Most roller coasters don't have them.

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.


Thursday, August 10, 2006 7:47 PM
I can't believe Intamin doesn't have sensors or whatever to insure all restraints are locked properly. But I guess when Intamin does do it you get El Toro.
Thursday, August 10, 2006 9:19 PM
Neither does Vekoma, PTC, GCI, S&S, and most of the B&M rides.


Thursday, August 10, 2006 10:08 PM
The article said that Oakwood was apparantly too stingy to buy OTSR. What makes us think that they would have bought boats with lapbar sensors?!

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.

Thursday, August 10, 2006 11:47 PM
"It is not necessary for the pitch rate to be as high as it is. But that's just my opinion..."

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!

Friday, August 11, 2006 12:03 PM
Take the pitch away, and you have something like Tidal Force at Hersheypark, which was once a record holder itself. It's still a great ride, but boy is that drop NOT very steep--it's only like 45 degrees or something like that.

Perilous Plunge should have had OSTRs, yes, or at least better lapbars & seatbelts.

Monday, August 14, 2006 2:32 PM
The drop angle isn't the problem, it is the pitch *rate*...that is, the size of the curve at the top of the drop. It's not necessary for that pitch to be *that fast*. Look, once you've produced enough -Gz to get the rider up in the air to the point of contacting the restraint, it is pointless to make that force any stronger. Once the body hits the lap bar (shoulder bar, seat belt, whatever) the only thing you're going to do is make it hurt more. And make it more likely that the rider is going to end up on the ground instead of inside the boat if there is any problem at all with the restraint. It would be far better to limit that -Gz force to something more reasonable, so that if there is a problem with the restraint the rider gets tossed in the air, but not completely clear of the boat!

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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