Report says ride ops did not secure Six Flags New England victim

Posted Friday, May 7, 2004 8:08 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Six Flags New England workers failed to properly secure a disabled man who was flung to his death from the Superman roller coaster, according to a state investigation and report issued today. The report assigns blame to amusement park operators, the ride's manufacturer and to victim Stanley J. Mordarsky himself for not alerting workers he suffered from cerebral palsy.

Read more from The Boston Herald and The Boston Globe.

Read the report here (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).

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Friday, May 7, 2004 8:29 AM
I am not there so it isn't too fair to judge but I have to sympathize with the victim's family who wondered how it was possible the ride operators didn't know the man had a disability. He comes to the ride through a handicapped entrance in a scooter. So, what am I missing?

I remember threads in the past where there was discussion about whether or not a seat belt was the primary restraint. Obviously in this case it could not have been seeing as he slipped right out of it.

As Jeff said before, this was a needless tragedy.

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Friday, May 7, 2004 8:49 AM
What should not be lost in all the analysis is that this was a death event. I don't think it will totally hit me until I go to SFNE again and take a look at that final turn.
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Friday, May 7, 2004 8:52 AM
Passing the blame all around I see.

Anyway, the aftermath of this should be interesting as the State has apparently red-taged the ride until such time as a new manufacturer approved restraint system can be installed.

Of note also, the man had been turned away from this ride in the past, due to being oversized.

I don't understand the "pre-existing" conditions thing, I mean almost evey park I have been to gives warnings "this ride not recommended for those with....", but I have never heard anyone say that you have to declare any medical conditions. I also don't get the "they should never have let him ride" excuse just because of his disability. I mean the same laws that were protecting his rights in other situations also worked against him in this case. He approached the ride, indicated he wanted to ride and therefore ADA says the park must grant him a ride so long as he he met the rides requirements.

Unfortunately he must not have been able to be secured, and the ride operators failed to realize that. It is however disconcerting that he was able to slide out both from under the lap bar and the seat belt. When something fails, the result shouldn't be death. Whatever happened to the adage that coasters are designed to be so safe and controlled that a rider could ride without the lapbar and still remain in the seat? If the rider is able to be percieved secured before the ride starts, then it is an unspoken expectation that the ride is designed to ensure the riders safe return to the unload area, otherwise there is a flaw somewhere. Such flaw seems to have no safety, no back-up, nothing to ensure that even if the flaw exercises itself that the rider will be protected.

I think in this case the State realizes that, as California did before.

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Friday, May 7, 2004 9:00 AM
I don't want to sound "silly" or anything but how was his hand severed when he was ejected from the ride? I mean does this mean that none of the S:ROS will open until the t-bar is replaced?
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Friday, May 7, 2004 9:08 AM
When both T-Bar and seat belt are used together the ride is so safe. The guy at SFDL fell out because he only had a lap bar. Seat belts were added and this clown fell out because he only used a seat belt! If I was Intaim AG I'd be pissed. I find the Superman trains very comfy and safe!! I'm extremely mad about this right now!! I was planning my first every trip to SFNE this summer too!! GRRRRRRRrrr
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Friday, May 7, 2004 9:15 AM
Gemini's avatar

this clown fell out

Practicing our sensitivity today?

I'm sorry his death has spoiled your trip.

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Friday, May 7, 2004 9:18 AM
Hmmm, let's see. My needs as a coaster enthusiast vs the desire for someone not to be killed again. Gee, I'm going to have to think hard about that.

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Friday, May 7, 2004 9:24 AM
Jeff's avatar At this point I'm not convinced the restraint had anything to do with the accident, or that it's inherently unsafe. Of all the accidents related to this type of Intamin restraint, the only one that remains a mystery is the teenage girl on Hyrdro. On SFDL the guy was too big and there were no seatbelts at the time, on Plunge the woman was far too large to ride and the operators allowed it, on this one the guy's bar and belt weren't even secured.

That said, the newest version does appear safer to my non-expert eye.

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Friday, May 7, 2004 9:27 AM
To me, the one part of the accident report that stands out is found on Page 7, Item 4."Failure of Ride Attendant". The report states the "proper" position of a "T" Bar... "firm against the upper thighs". From a passenger's point of view, the belt is secured, the belt is tight against them... that is all that they know. All appears to be fine because they are seemingly wedged into the seat by the bar and secured by the belt. It doesn't matter if the bar is tight against their belly, and not their thighs, it seems tight and secure. However, to the laws of physics, it does matter... the thighs will not give or change shape... the belly will.

You can blame the rider all you wish with your cavalier "he should have known better" (I won't even comment on the above "clown" comment)... but the bottom line to me was hit home in the last sentence of item 4... If the attendant would have taken a close enough look to see that the T bar was not in the right position, he/she could have either repositioned the bar correctly, or, if it could not be done, refused to allow the victim to ride.

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Friday, May 7, 2004 9:34 AM
Remember that ASTM standards require redundent reatraints on ride with the kind of negative G's that Intamin Mypers have. In other words, there have to be two restraints, either on of which is fully capable of retaining the rider in the event that the other fails. It does not mean that they work together to restrain the rider.Now the ASTM standard isn't law in any state, though NJ virtually copied it for their amusement ride law; but it is a pretty reasonable standard and a good basis for any lawsuit. I almost forgot, due to a strange quirk in the laws while the ASTM standard is not law in any state that I know of for the paying customers, it might be law for the operators on test ride. This is due to a provision in OSHA regulations that requires businesses to follow "consensus standards".
*** This post was edited by Jim Fisher 5/7/2004 9:39:44 AM ***
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Friday, May 7, 2004 9:34 AM
As much as the "horse collar" is lambasted, I don't ever recall hearing a story of someone thrown from an Arrow coaster that had a horse collar.

The more commonly found U-shaped lapbars might be more appropriate on a ride like Superman where your Center of Gravity is so much higher above the chassis. I have to think that has something to do with some of these accidents. On an arrow looper you are sitting "in" the car while on these Intamin trains you are sitting "on" the car.

I have to admit that the first time I sat on MF at the Point I did not feel safe just because of the position I was riding in.

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Friday, May 7, 2004 9:38 AM
If I had to guess, based on reading the report, the only restraint changes will be to ensure that all of the seat belts are shortened to a size ensuring that anyone who can successfully buckle the belt will have the bar on their thighs instead of their gut. It looks like the extra 11" on the front-row belts contributed to this needless death.
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Friday, May 7, 2004 9:38 AM
I'm pleasantly surprised to see some amount of blame placed on the rider.

I also agree with Crashmando that if I was Intamin, I would seriously think about my business relationship with some of my customers. It appears that all of the accidents state-side were all because the restraints were not used properly - either bar and no belt, no bar and a belt, or just too many rolls to fit under the bar. While it is up to an engineer to account of the safety of the public, I do NOT agree that it is up to them to sit around and think up every single birdbrained act that someone could do and account for every single one of them. Based on ridership statistics, I would say their restraints still have over a 99.5% reliablility, and no one gives them any credit for a reliability rate that some other systems (i.e. - roads, cars, etc.) would love to even approach! Intamin is not Superman (pun intended), they cannot save every idiot in this world from themselves.

I too would be pissed if human error by both rider and ops (neither of whom I knew or had control over) had spoiled my trip.
*** This post was edited by Impulse-ive 5/7/2004 9:40:25 AM ***

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Friday, May 7, 2004 9:42 AM
It doesn't make sense that the ride ops would assist the rider into the car and then not bother to check the restraints properly. It's also strange that there is an abundance of eye witnesses for the superman incident and so far none for the Hydro incident.*** This post was edited by Grant 5/7/2004 9:44:15 AM ***
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Friday, May 7, 2004 9:48 AM
What is happening to America? I just don't get this "offended" attitude some of you are taking about trips being ruined or ride experiences being changed due to an accident that resulted in a death.

That would be like saying, "I am so pissed off that my New York trip got cancelled because some idiots rammed airplanes into buildings. How dare they ruin my trip!"

If I was Intamin I wouldn't be worried about my business relationships with customers. I'd be working feverishly to work on new designs that help ensure the safety of the people who enjoy my rides. I'd be working aggressively with the parks to be sure everyone understood the limits of the attractions.

You guys need to get a firm hold on reality.

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Friday, May 7, 2004 9:53 AM
This accident should serve as a warning for all riders of large girth, myself included. On any coaster with a lap bar as the primary restrain, if it ratchets down and stops on your stomach, not firmly against your thighs, you're not secure. Get off before the ride starts!

So far, I've never been turned away from a coaster and only rarely have I witnessed others guests turned away because they were too big for the seat or restraint system. I've never seen a ride denial in Canada, but I've seen it in various New York and Pennsylvania parks over the last couple years.

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Friday, May 7, 2004 10:04 AM
To me it seems the solution would be to make those seatbelts in the front seat shorter like all the others so the larger people that do not fit properly beneath the lap bar can not ride. I dont see why the entire ride would need to be changed. Rides unfortunately can not accomidate ( spell?) every single sized person there is...there has to be a cut off. To me, this large seatbelt seems to be the problem. If the seat belt was the same size as the rest of them this man would not have been able to ride and none of this would have ever happened.
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Friday, May 7, 2004 10:08 AM
The intamin restraints are a problem as they allow for errors like this to happen more often as it has happened multiple times.

Big people are not being tossed from other rides at the rate they have been from Intamin rides. Either the other restraints accomodate big riders more safely, or they design of the ride doesn't allow them to ride.

There is just way too much judgement on the part of the operators in the case of the intamin rides (is the t-bar firmly against the thighs or stomach?).

Now i can speak for the parks i have been to.....ride operators often run by and just tap the bar....they are not checking anything in doing that. I DONT expect the ride operators to verify my or my family's restraints are secure. WE do that.

There is a problem with the Intamin rides....too spacious of seating and minimal restraints......obviously they allow too heavy people to be seated, but not secured.

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Friday, May 7, 2004 10:15 AM
I agree with you, greatwhitenorth. I'm sitting here at my desk at work and "sucking it in" and wondering if I will have problems this year (put on some pounds over the winter). I also agree with you that, if I find the lap bar coming down on my stomach, not against my thighs, I will voluntairly get off of the coaster.

HOWEVER... This does not absolve the operator. The operator knows the "safe operating procedure" for their machine (at least they should). While I may think I am safe, the final say is the operator. Who ever has the stricter "requirements" is who I am going to listen to....

IF I am in a coaster and feel safe, but the operator says "Sorry, can't let you ride... the restraint's are not in the right position," then too bad for me... I will get off the coaster, even more determined to lose the weight before my next visit.

IF I am sitting down and the operator checks my restraints and clears them, but I personally am not convinced that I will be safe, I am not above saying "Eh... on second thought... let me off..." at which time I will get off the coaster, even more determined to lose the weight before my next visit.

One additional thing"

What super7 said is what I have been saying all along (even with the Perilous Plunge accident)... "Either the other restraints accomodate big riders more safely, or the design of the ride doesn't allow them to ride." On a B&M Inverted for instance... the OTSR doesn't click into the right position and/or the belt doesn't connect, you don't ride, simple as that... no guess work.

*** This post was edited by SLFAKE 5/7/2004 10:25:01 AM ***

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