Police say operator error likely caused tower accident at Dells

Posted Tuesday, August 3, 2010 11:36 AM | Contributed by redman822

The Lake Delton police chief says the accident at the Dells Extreme World tower, where a 12-year-old girl fell to the ground, is likely the result of operator error. He said the net had not been raised off the ground and the platform had not been raised to the correct height.

The girl's father, a doctor, assumed she was dead when she hit the ground, but brought her back via CPR.

Read more from CBS Early Show and WKOW/Madison.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 11:06 AM

You really can't place the blame on the owners. As I said, I wouldn't purchase one, but there are SCAD towers in operation all over the world, and from the way they are designed (if they are all the same*) it looks like this could have happened to any one of them. The problem appears to be that you are relying solely on the operator to make certain everything is in place. There are no lockouts, no backups, and it looks like very few safety features. I blame the designers. Unless I'm missing something, after looking at how these operate, I have to wonder why any city would permit these towers to operate in their municipality and what insurance carrier agreed to insure them. There's plenty of blame to go around.

*I can't say that I've paid that much attention to these things. For those who have ridden other SCAD towers, do they all operate the same way? Is the net pulled up when the carriage is pulled up? In viewing some videos it looks like there might be variations. Some appear to have a net that operates independently from the carriage. I noticed the one in Dallas does not have a trap door. The guest stands while being lifted up and is able to see what's going on, and thus confirm the net is in place, before getting into the drop position.

Last edited by Jeffrey Seifert, Wednesday, August 4, 2010 11:52 AM
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Wednesday, August 4, 2010 11:16 AM
Kick The Sky's avatar

Normally I would agree with you, Jeff, however, you are looking at a park that was not paying it's bills and was likely cutting corners all over the place. They already have said that it was operator error, but how much of that might have been a lack of proper training? If it's anything like the other businesses in the Dells, I would have to say not much. Just about every place out there cuts corners wherever they can which creates some very scary situations. Yeah, the design of these towers sucks, but, I think that most of the blame is still on the owners and also the operator.


Certain victory.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010 11:24 AM

I agree, but before we start burning people at the stake, let's find out what happened. Yes they were cutting corners and having financial difficulties, but we don't know if that compromised the safety of this operation or not. It may be just a bad design from the onset just waiting for an accident.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010 3:39 PM

Who makes this ride and what have they said about it and secondary safety precautions?


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Thursday, August 5, 2010 11:23 AM

Built by Montic. SCAD is a pretty frightening system. Approved by TÜV and "perfectly safe".

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
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Thursday, August 5, 2010 11:37 AM

One website suggests this one may be a knockoff, but from what I can tell it looks like all the other Montic SCAD towers out there, and they claim to have worldwide patents on the system.

According to their website:

MONTIC SCAD systems are built according to German safety standards and have been tested and approved by the TÜV Germany. They also comply with US ASTM standards.

It has also been inspected by the HSE-UK, DTI-Denmark, TÜV-Austria, SA-Sweden, Lift Institute - Netherlands etc. and operates in 18 countries around the world including the USA and Japan.

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Thursday, August 5, 2010 4:39 PM

Reminds me a little of the story of Kaitlyn Lasitter, another teenage girl injured in a free fall:
http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/houseorgan/archive/HO_609/Moment1.htm

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Thursday, August 5, 2010 6:31 PM

Except that the attractions involved in the two incidents, the nature of the incident, the mechanism of injury, the extent of injury, the conditions leading up to the incident, and the severity of the incident are almost, but not quite entirely unlike each other.

Basically the only things that are common between the Kaitlyn Lassiter incident and the Teagan Marti incident are...

o Both were serious incidents
o Both victims were young girls
o Both rides have something to do with a free-fall

Given a choice, I suspect that Ms. Marti would have preferred to be in Ms. Lassiter's shoes...as horrific as that incident was, this one was almost certainly worse.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____
/XXXXX\ /XXX\ /XXXX\_ /X\ /XXXXX\ /X\ /X\ /XXXXX
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Thursday, August 5, 2010 11:28 PM
LostKause's avatar

Yeah. The two incidents are nothing alike. They do both make me feel about the same; this one a little worse.


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Friday, August 6, 2010 8:31 AM

in Ms. Lassiter's shoes

No pun intended, I'm sure.


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Sunday, August 8, 2010 1:13 AM

The expression was deliberately chosen with great care, but the intention was not to be funny.

So yes, it was intentional, but it was intentional for the same reason that when I refer to these incidents, I will sometimes refer to such names as Stanley Mordarsky, Kaitlin Lassiter, Greyson Yoe, and now Teagan Marti when referring to ride accidents. It's easy to gloss over the fact that these failures have destroyed or radically changed peoples' lives. Sometimes we need to remember who these people are, and what happened to them.

Especially the ones who were directly responsible for their stories, like Ryan Bielby, David Fackler and Tamar Fellner. Some of us are in positions to help prevent the failures that caused the first group of tragedies, and all of us are in the position to prevent those in the second group. Those are duties we should all take seriously.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____
/XXXXX\ /XXX\ /XXXX\_ /X\ /XXXXX\ /X\ /X\ /XXXXX
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Tuesday, August 10, 2010 2:26 PM

Just throwing a thought out here...

I realize that the total failure of the operators is beyond understanding at this point. But when we discuss redundant systems on these types of rides, and the total reliance on the knowledge, skill, and safety awareness of the operators, how does this ride really differ from the other "daredevil" rides out there, like (most notably) bungee jumps, sky coasters, etc.? On a bungee jump (and here I'm talking about consumer-level jumps, like those found on a boardwalk or extreme park), you ride up in a crane cage, are attached to the cords by the professionals, then sent out into the air with nothing to rely on but the cords. If, for example, you were not harnessed correctly, not attached to the cords correctly, not weighed and been assigned the appropriate cord correctly, and certainly if you told to jump before the cage was to the proper height, etc., then a similar accident would occur as well. Rarely have I seen bungee jumps with nets below the jump zone.

Skycoasters are a little less risky, as even if you released the pull early, you would be just fine (assuming the flight path is clear), but still, the same could be said about proper harnessing and cable connections.

I am really not necessarily defending the ride design here, but I am simply noting that most rides of this type do heavily rely on the abilities and attentiveness of their operators, and that in this case, the operators are really the only ones to blame, and not so much the inherent design of the ride. Some sensors and other systems would certainly help to prevent this happening again, but it will always still come down to the operators. Why they didn't have a whole team system for this ride, with more than one person on the bottom verifying the net is safely and securely in place, then somehow signaling to the cage, is beyond me. Instead of adding all kinds of sensor-release systems and the like, just have a stringent double/triple-check system in place with the operators, so no one person's judgment is ever solely relied upon.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010 2:55 PM
Jeff's avatar

I wouldn't lump Skycoasters in with that bunch. They have levels of redundancy in the cabling and attachment to the rider. The only potential for operator error is an incorrectly harnessed rider (and even that's debatable given the way they're designed), and the stairs or platform being left in the flight line. As far as I know, the only accident they've ever had was the latter, and shockingly stupid.

This "ride" has no attachment at all. The only safety equipment is the net, and it's not even in place in its default state.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010 3:41 PM
kpjb's avatar

Not sure if they have anything with the models with steps, but the Skycoaster models with the scissors-lifts, you can't even raise the flyers up until the lift is flat on the ground. I'd imagine there'd be some sort of sensor in the steps' home position too, especially since that accident. Skycoaster people are quite overbearing when it comes to safety, but you can't argue their record.


Hi

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010 5:24 PM

Right - I should never have used Skycoasters in this example, as I agree they have an extraordinary safety record, and have quite the effective checks system.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010 7:32 AM

As Jeff said, the levels of redundancy is pretty nuts on Skycoasters. There's at least two of every connection (from the flight suits to the top of the flight cables) simply as fail-safe backups. Once flyers have reached the proned position (face down over the platform) you're in the clear as far as being hooked up properly. An improperly secured flyer would either fall to the platform, not fall at all, or be left hanging sideways at this point. From this point the worst that could happen would be an early release from the launch cable, but since that's what's supposed to happen eventually anyway, and the flight line is supposed to be clear before winch-up begins, it's a non issue.

I'm not aware of any sort of electronic lock-out for the rolling platforms other than the fact that they get locked into place once rolled out of the way. As kpjb mentioned, the models with hydraulic lifts won't winch up until the platform is on the ground. Once on the ground, the power is cut and isn't restored until the operator pushes a button at the low point switch located next to the platform.


And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010 7:59 AM

RCPete said:
On a bungee jump (and here I'm talking about consumer-level jumps, like those found on a boardwalk or extreme park), you ride up in a crane cage, are attached to the cords by the professionals, then sent out into the air with nothing to rely on but the cords. If, for example, you were not harnessed correctly, not attached to the cords correctly, not weighed and been assigned the appropriate cord correctly, and certainly if you told to jump before the cage was to the proper height, etc., then a similar accident would occur as well. Rarely have I seen bungee jumps with nets below the jump zone.

Nets? No, but most bungee jump concessionaires that I've seen are set up over water or have a giant air mattress under them. So there is typically a backup system in place in case anything you mentioned above occurs.

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