Pigeon Forge manager dodges jail time in reckless homicide conviction

Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2005 4:10 PM | Contributed by Jeff

The manager of a Pigeon Forge amusement park avoided jail time Tuesday for the death of a women who was killed when she fell from a thrill ride. Charles Stan Martin got four years probation with no jail time, 200 hours of community service, and a $5,000 fine. Prosecutors argued Martin had either placed jumper wires defeating the safety system or was aware the wires were there.

Read more from WATE/Knoxville.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 4:58 PM
I'm shocked about this. I was quite sure he'd do some time!
Tuesday, July 26, 2005 6:28 PM
From what I know about the case, I think he should have done time. Ride operators need to know if they pull crap like this, they will be punished. Unfortunately, this man just got a slap on the wrist.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005 7:52 PM
""Whether he would have served a 100 years in jail, it's never going to bring my mother back," said Cody Alexander.

Alexander's family has filed a $96 million civil suit against Martin, the company that owned the amusement park, and the ride's manufacturer.

The family's attorney says family members hope to settle outside of court.""

So, really, it's the money they are after, they obviously aren't too concerned about the guy's sentence. I'd think I'd be pretty angry that this guy got off so easily, but seeing they are trying to pull millions of dollars from this park, it's clear they've placed their bet on gettign a cash settlement instead.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 9:22 PM
I’m against frivolous lawsuits and am prone to think most media reported suits seem indeed frivolous. From what I’ve read and watched of this case, it would be hard to convince me that this suit is frivolous. You can convince me that 96 million is ridiculous and frivolous, but not the suit itself. The question is who is going to pay the bill and if the plaintiffs will ever see the money after the defendants go bankrupt.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005 9:31 PM
The guy will get money, no doubt about that. I don't know if I'd hold Zamperla liable though, because it doesn't sound like they had anything to do with it. I doubt very much they would be defeating their own safety interlocks.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005 10:32 PM
Yeah, the whole Zamperla thing is stretching it. If I take the brakes off my car, the person I hit can't sue Toyota.

I'm stunned that the sentence is so light. I think he should have served time.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 10:59 AM
The money is the one way that the family has left to punish the people who killed a loved one after the criminal justice system has failed them. In this situation I'd sue if I were a billionaire and the the money meant nothing to me.

I'm opposed to frivalous lawsuits, but I see nothing frivalous about suing the park and its management. Throwing in Zamperla does seem unnecessary, but maybe they believed some of the BS from the defense in the trial.

I guess this proves that you don't have to be a Hollywood celebrity to get away with killing someone.*** This post was edited by Jim Fisher 7/27/2005 11:01:17 AM ***

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 11:51 AM
As I said in the forum thread, the reasoning behind the light punishment HAD to do with an inability to prove WHO bypassed the safety mechanism...

Have to wonder if they checked inside the housing for fingerprints? Doesn't seem like it was conducted as a murder investigation based on what little evidence was presented...or do I watch too much Law & Order?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 12:58 PM
I think it preety cool he got off beside weve got way to many people in jail so i think people who do small crimes like that need to be let off so i support he being let off i think its great!!!!!!!!!
*** This post was edited by daniel2003 7/27/2005 12:58:46 PM ***
Wednesday, July 27, 2005 1:16 PM
If i understand correctly, this ride does not have secondary saftey belts from the harness to the seats like most thrill rides to that depend on the restraint to keep the rider in the ride (such as the B and M inverteds). Is that correct?

If so, Zamperla may also be liable IMO.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 1:54 PM

daniel2003 so illiterately stated:

I think it preety cool he got off beside weve got way to many people in jail so i think people who do small crimes like that need to be let off so i support he being let off i think its great!!!!!!!!!

A woman died. let me repeat this for you. A woman died while being thrown from the ride in full view of her son and mother, plus other family members...

This is not a small crime. He killed her the same as if he had stood in front of her and pulled the trigger in a twisted version of game of Russian Roulette where someone else is at risk rather than oneself.

Edited for clarification.*** This post was edited by redman822 7/28/2005 9:07:48 AM ***

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 2:11 PM
Sue away! I hope the family gets what it can. Money can't bring back the dead, but it can sure make the defendant wish he were.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005 8:12 PM
super7*, from what I understand, on most of the rides with the harness belts, those are sizing belts only, and not intended to restrain the rider. If I recall corectly, this ride had the Iron Eagle style harnesses with dual hardened machine steel locking dead bolts. The restraint locking system was more that sufficient, if it was working properly, and not overriden by the manager. I think Zamperla is 0% liable for the accident. It is unfortunate that the manager could do so much damage with a couple of jumper cables.
Thursday, July 28, 2005 10:16 AM
I'm not real familiar with this type of ride. There are ASTM standards for what rides require dual restraints and what rides do not. This is based on the g-forces, especially negative g, imposed on the rider. These standards are not law in most cases, but they represent good practive and are influential with the judge or jury in any lawsuit.

I don't start to believe the claim that Zamperla did the jumpering. Even if Zamperla had hypothetically done the jumpering the previous incident certainly provided the park management with evidence that there was a serious safety problem that needed to be diagnosed and corrected.

Thursday, July 28, 2005 1:58 PM
Unfortunately in our society, the chain of defendants extends until the party with the most money (or thought to have the most money) is included. The argument will probably be made that although Zamperla didn't directly do anything, they are at fault for not making the ride foolproof against any sort of tampering whatsoever.

A jury will sit there and hear how Zamperla made X millions amount of dollars, and figure they could spare 90 million or so to give to this poor bereaved family. Right or wrong, they'll figure this family should get money from someone, and the company would be the one with the most money available to give them.

Sunday, July 31, 2005 10:28 PM
The Zamperla Hawk (a 2003 park model... so I guess it changed since the one concerned in this accident was build) at La Ronde has no seatbelt, instead a second "lock" that engage after the restraints in position. On the other hand, the Discovery across the park has no second "lock" and has a seatbelt. So, I think seatbelts are not needed on the Hawk, normally.*** This post was edited by Absimilliard 7/31/2005 10:29:33 PM ***

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