State ends investigation of Top Thrill Dragster accident at Cedar Point

Posted Friday, February 18, 2022 5:50 PM | Contributed by Jeff

The Ohio Department of Agriculture announced Friday it has completed its investigation into an incident involving Cedar Point's Top Thrill Dragster. In August, a woman was hit in the head and severely injured by a metal plate that separated from a train on the ride. The investigation showed that a screw appeared to spontaneously break, causing the separation of the plate. The Ohio Department of Agriculture found no evidence that the park violated any laws.

Read more from WSYX/Columbus.

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Friday, February 18, 2022 6:17 PM

https://www.cedarpoint.com/rides-experiences/top-thrill-dragster

Looks like the park has already made the decision to keep the ride closed for the 2022 season.


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Friday, February 18, 2022 6:41 PM
Jeff's avatar

The state may absolve them of wrong doing, but I'm sure there's a civil lawsuit and the insurance companies may be unwilling to underwrite a policy on the ride. With the huge maintenance costs, I suspect it's done. Cedar Point is not really a lesser place without this ride.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

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Friday, February 18, 2022 6:41 PM

For the first time I genuinely wonder if the ride will be removed

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Friday, February 18, 2022 7:20 PM
OhioStater's avatar

The full report can be found below.

620 pages of fun.

What's troubling (on page 6) is that the same piece on the purple train was found to be loose, and wear marks were present on the outer edge of the piece on the blue train.

Given the ride's history, I would not be remotely surprised to see it removed.

Then again, how many events-that-could-potentially-cause (and in this case, did) are "acceptable" for an Intamin ride?


Promoter of fog.

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Friday, February 18, 2022 7:31 PM
Jeff's avatar

Even with that information, I just don't see this as an issue of neglect. I do wonder, from a design standpoint, why the manufacturer didn't just weld the part on. It doesn't seem like there's any reason for it to ever be removed.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

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Friday, February 18, 2022 7:38 PM
OhioStater's avatar

If anything, this report details just how thorough the park is with regards to inspections.

According to the report, it's not easily removed.

Page 11:

When asked if during his time at Cedar Point he could recall any issues with the proximity flag plate, Elswick responded “No.” Elswick added, “you have to heat it [proximity flag plate] with a torch to break it off.”

Last edited by OhioStater, Friday, February 18, 2022 7:43 PM

Promoter of fog.

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Friday, February 18, 2022 7:39 PM

This seems like reason to remove the ride. If they are inspecting it properly and it manages to tear itself apart, it’s a huge liability. Especially now that the precedent had been set that it can do this.

The park had big crowds last year with the ride closed There is really no reason to open it again The few additional people it might bring is not worth the liability

If it does operate again, I would expect to see some pretty unsightly catch fencing between the ride and the public in order to get insurance.

Last edited by super7*, Friday, February 18, 2022 7:42 PM
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Friday, February 18, 2022 7:48 PM
eightdotthree's avatar

It’s time for it to go. It’s a constant headache for the park and a constant disappointment for guests. I haven’t ridden in years because every time I get in line it breaks down or never opens.


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Friday, February 18, 2022 7:49 PM
LostKause's avatar

Wow. I keep hearing that Cedar Fair might be ready to start buying from Intamin again, because the coaster maker has supposedly gotten safer and more reliable lately, but now I'm not so sure, especially if TTDs closure is permanent.

Really though, it would only be sorely missed and idolized into legendary status by the young coaster enthusiasts who never got to ride it. I almost always skip it.


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Friday, February 18, 2022 7:58 PM
Jeff's avatar

Where are you "hearing" this, because it's probably nonsense.

Universal bought from Intamin, but my understanding is that they worked directly with Europe and had non-trivial involvement in the engineering.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

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Friday, February 18, 2022 8:06 PM
TheMillenniumRider's avatar

It’ll be a shame if they can’t sort out such a small piece of the ride. It has been in operation for almost 20 years, was it really such a poor design on this flag plate?

It’s over quick and it isn’t always the most reliable, but that launch is so awesome. Would be sad to see it close. Kingda Ka just isn’t the same because of those hideous otsr’s.

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Friday, February 18, 2022 8:17 PM

TheMillenniumRider said:

It has been in operation for almost 20 years, was it really such a poor design on this flag plate?

The victim and her loved ones would probably say yes.

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Friday, February 18, 2022 8:21 PM
OhioStater's avatar

If you factor in the ride's abysmal reliability, it's only been in operation for about 7 of those 20 years.

Hell, it took my wife and I three seasons of trying to even get on the ride. I wish that was a joke.

The report states that because of limited rides in 2020, Intamin emailed Cedar Point and said it did not need to do the typical complete train overhaul that would normally take place. So they didn't, and relied on visual inspections. Possibly just coincidental, but hard to swallow given the reality of what happened.

Seeing the actual damage that was done to the track (page 62) is a visual reminder of how intense the force of this ride is.

Last edited by OhioStater, Friday, February 18, 2022 8:41 PM

Promoter of fog.

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Friday, February 18, 2022 8:24 PM

Maybe it will be closed for a season while they come up with precautions/redesigns to make sure that this particular failure would be highly unlikely to be possible again. I rarely ride it but I would be sad to see it go.

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Friday, February 18, 2022 10:11 PM
Jeff's avatar

There's an interesting angle to this regarding the local amateur newspaper and its desire to get CP police records. According to this report, the judge says they need an attorney to make the claim. I doubt they can afford it.

That said, seeing whatever the park police wrote down wouldn't materially change the outcome of the investigation. The Ag Department was exceptionally thorough.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

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Friday, February 18, 2022 10:17 PM

Jeff said:

Where are you "hearing" this, because it's probably nonsense.

Universal bought from Intamin, but my understanding is that they worked directly with Europe and had non-trivial involvement in the engineering.

Some day I’d love to see you write down all your feelings about Sandor. The fact that you believe that the US office is directly related to many of their issues leads me to believe that you’ve heard some really good stories over the years.

Last edited by PhantomTails, Friday, February 18, 2022 10:17 PM
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Friday, February 18, 2022 10:53 PM

The eyewitness reports are chilling. What strikes me most is how quickly bystanders jumped in to help. That is except the "ER nurse" who wanted to control the scene but apparently did nothing to help.

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Friday, February 18, 2022 10:59 PM
Jeff's avatar

I have an unpublished story about my experience with Sandor. I've hesitated to publish it because it includes quotes from people that may not have wanted to be quoted at the time. OhioStater has read it. He knows. 🙂 It's all factual though.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

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Saturday, February 19, 2022 9:26 AM

A week ago, I would have said that Cedar Point would try to quickly open the ride, unless the accident investigation came to some really bad conclusion. However, now, I'm a quite a bit more pessimistic that the ride will ever operate again.

As I think about it, I have to wonder if the rocket coaster is fundamentally flawed. Haven't three of the four rocket coasters in the US all had significant failures? -Xcelerator I think it was during a cable failure roll back that one of the seats actually shifted. (Did the train roll over the loose cable?) -Kinda Ka: The bottom of one of the trains got shredded during a test launch. -Dragster: 1) The sensor plate got thrown from the ride, 2) when the cable failed it sprayed metal fragments on the riders. It just seems that this model of ride has had an awful lot of failures that could cause serious injury or worse. How much longer will the parks be wiling to put up with this combined with the maintenance headache?

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