Weight may have been a factor in Perilous Plunge death

Posted Wednesday, September 26, 2001 8:54 AM | Contributed by supermandl

Investigators say the victim who was tossed from the Perilous Plunge giant flume at Knott's Berry Farm may have been beyond the ideal weight to ride safely. One expert described for The LA Times the manner in which an over-weight rider's tissue can shift during the ride.

Read more from The LA Times.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2001 8:55 AM
I hate to say it, but after the Darien Lake incident, I would think that Intamin would be aware of the problem and suggest to the parks to restrict weight.

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"From the global village... in the age of communication!"
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Wednesday, September 26, 2001 9:24 AM
they should restrict weight on several rides.  I rode Spiderman at IOA with a large couple and they pulled the lap bar down to accomidate them.  well I'm not that big and so the lap bar wasn't anywhere near me.  it acted more as an arm rest.  I was thrown around quite a bit on that ride.  I'm just gald that I was sitting in the middle and there weren't open-sided cars.

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Jay and Silent Bob have left the building ~Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

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Wednesday, September 26, 2001 9:38 AM
Wierd...

If Intamin knows it's an issue(Darien Lake), wouldn't rethinking the restraint system to prevent people who may be at risk from even getting on the ride be better than telling the parks to restrict riders? I'm not trying to point the finger at the manufacturer, because I obviously don't know all the facts. It just seems odd that given the DL incident and the "shifting tissue" theory in the article that the problem wasn't accounted for.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2001 9:42 AM
I think that parks are afraid of restricting weight because of the possibility of lawsuits. Someone could sue for "emotional distress" or something like that, cause by embarrassment. Don't laugh. It has happened before.

Then again, height limits could be discriminatory against tall people.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2001 9:49 AM
Sorry to say it on this one folks...

But if the lap bar and seat belt were still locked, it sounds like a DESIGN FLAW.

Did the woman's weight have something to do with it? Possibly. It sounds plausable that while the restraints may have locked upon loading, she was not in a position (or changed position) that would keep her secure. Therefore, IMHO, the ride should have been designed so that the restraints could not have been locked on a person who is too large, thus preventing that person from riding.

If it was a case of the restraints not being secured properly, this either points to ride op error (should have made sure the person was secured properly) or design flaw (should not have been able to be secured if the person did not fit properly).

I know that there are those out there who say that rides are safe, and most of the time they are... but there very rare times when the design of a ride may be at fault... and the more that I read on this one, the more that sounds like this may be the case. I have a hard time attributing this one to "rider error".

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"I wasn't always this cynical, but then I started kindergarden..."

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Wednesday, September 26, 2001 9:55 AM
How does Darien Lake handle this? Is it an "if you can fit you can ride" situation, or do the ops make a judgement call?

*** This post was edited by chris on 9/26/2001. ***

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Wednesday, September 26, 2001 9:55 AM
The simplest option and closest to encompassing all weight classes would be individual restraints rather than one long one encompassing several riders.  Unless this is the case with Perilous Plunge.  If a ride restricted me solely because of weight I would consider sueing the park and manufacturer of a ride.  That would limit even fit people not just fat people based on weight.  The theory that was stated in the article does make sense but I still dont see how she got loose from the seatbelt if it were on properly.  
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Yes, I want my Deja Vu and eat it too!
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Wednesday, September 26, 2001 10:05 AM
scanz - An emotional distress lawsuit will seem pretty trivial compared to the liability lawsuit that Knott's or even Intamin may face if the DL incident and this one correlate.

As a "big guy," I'd rather be embarrassed than physically endangered.

*** This post was edited by chris on 9/26/2001. ***

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Wednesday, September 26, 2001 10:31 AM
SLFLAKE- I agree completely... there was some sort of short comming with the restraints.. and since that was the issue with my incident..it makes my skin crawl..I didnt realize there was an accident at DL with a restraint issue from an Intamin ride...

Its best to restrict people that cannot be secured properly.. the airlines make extremely large people buy two seats so they are safely secured...there should be no reason to fear lawsuits over size when one's life is at issue.

Since these parks are privately owned they can set any rules they would like.. and I hope they address this soon.


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Wednesday, September 26, 2001 10:43 AM
Intamin did take action after the Darien Lake incident.  They added seat belts to their restraint system.  Unfortunately in this case, it appears that the changes were not enough.
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Wednesday, September 26, 2001 11:14 AM
this is exactly what I was saying before (but it was deleted). I did not mean to be rude, but gosh, these heavy people, I just dont know what to say. it realy tics me off. That ride is perfectly safe. Just wait, now they will but 2 seat belts and an OTSR in combo with the lap bar.
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Wednesday, September 26, 2001 11:17 AM
In some cases (such as Wave Swinger and Yo-Yo type rides... the old swings on chains) I can see a weight restriction (those chains can only hold so much weight).

However, on other rides, I do not think a weight restriction would do much good. For instance... if you are 6'7", chances are that you are not going to be able to ride very many rides because you are just too darned tall, regardless of body build. However, someone who is 6' tall and all muscle and weighs 275 is going to fit into a ride a heck of a lot differently than someone who is 5'2" and is "fat" and weighs 275!

Restricting based on Height is one thing... that is easy. Based on weight is different... a taller , average built person could weight more and fit a ride better than a shorter but "rounder" person who actually weighs less.

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"I wasn't always this cynical, but then I started kindergarden..."

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Wednesday, September 26, 2001 11:18 AM
I heard that the ride ops slacked off... here is a link to another site's news..

http://www.mouseplanet.com/mp/news.htm

They say the ride-ops only checked a few seats.... doesn't sound good but we should wait for the truth before we jump to any conclusions.

 

-djansi

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Wednesday, September 26, 2001 11:21 AM
"this is exactly what I was saying before (but it was deleted). I did not mean to be rude, but gosh, these heavy people, I just dont know what to say. it realy tics me off. That ride is perfectly safe. Just wait, now they will but 2 seat belts and an OTSR in combo with the lap bar."

Evidently that ride WAS NOT perfectly safe... else someone who was secured by a lap bar and a seat belt (both of which remained locked after the person was ejected from the ride) would have held them in.

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"I wasn't always this cynical, but then I started kindergarden..."

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Wednesday, September 26, 2001 11:32 AM
I can't say that I completely agree with Mr. Pribonic. The safety belt should not be routed over the stomach, it should be routed over the hips on any rider, as its purpose is to hold the rider in the vehicle, not to prevent forward excursion. I think a far more likely scenario is that the belt was either not fastened at all, or was fastened but adjusted loosely enough that the rider was able to slip out. I realize that they are a maintenance nightmare, particularly in a wet environment, but perhaps the solution is a self-adjusting seat belt...assuming the belt was fastened to begin with. beast7369, Plunge does have individual lap bars.

Personally, I think in this case and in the Darien Lake case we're probably dealing with riders who were not only oversize, but who were probably also standing up or partially standing at the time of ejection. But that is only an opinion.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2001 11:37 AM
Dave - But shouldn't the restraint system prevent that (standing up) regardless of  size?
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Wednesday, September 26, 2001 11:47 AM
To all who are commenting on possible restrictions: Surely the issue here is safety - on some of the UK rides there are notices saying that people with large upper body dimensions may not be able to ride. I am restricted from some rides due to my height but annoying as that is, I would rather not ride if my safety was in question (and have sustained many bruises from ill fitting restraints!). The only result of lawsuits from people restricted from rides would be that parks would have to dramatically tone down their attractions so that everybody can ride safely, resulting in boredom for all.
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Wednesday, September 26, 2001 12:01 PM
I must agree with SLFLAKE. This is a design problem. I sate my main case again that to my knowledge Arrow lap bar restraints and seat belts have accommodated much large people, and have kept them in while the new high tech Intamin restrains seemed to be having trouble with both.

I know I stated early the problems with the bar itself. For people like myself (who are not really that fat at all), the bar hits the crotch/abdoman before it comes over the legs. Rideman posted a simple solution for this. If Intamin is any sort of a good company, they will notice and make these simple changes instead of creating a weight limit, which as stated above really would not accomplish anything (i.e., a 6'5" 250 pound person and a 5'5" 250 pound person will have totally different bodies).

As for the belt, I have a speculation on what happened. For larger men, it is east o slide the belt safely underneath the gut if the belt is to short. For large women though they are more solid through that area and therefore if the belt fits at all, it just may be resting above the stomach. Now with the belt were have to been larger, it could have been attached then tighten in the proper position instead of just sort of laid on the stomach which would accomplish nothing (like the article said). Still this is just speculation.


I just think a simple bar design change would solve the problem.

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Save Cheese on a stick! *** This post was edited by Joe E. on 9/26/2001. ***

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Wednesday, September 26, 2001 12:09 PM
A lot of times the ops don't need to check everyone's seat.  But do see if you are wearing your seatbelt (if) the ride has one. 
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