PKI answers questions about Son of Beast incident

Posted Wednesday, July 12, 2006 9:14 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Confusion in mainstream media has led to a number of inaccuracies and conspiracy theories about Sunday's events. The following is a list of questions and answers provided by Maureen Kaiser at PKI.

Q: What happened? When? What were early reports?
A: On Sunday, July 9, at 4:45 p.m., a Son of Beast train rolled into the station after completing a full cycle. Some guests complained of discomfort. The Kings Island safety team, as well as Mason Fire and Safety immediately responded. 27 guests were transported to area hospitals. 25 were treated and released that evening. 2 were admitted to the hospital.

Q: Other reports say there were more guests at the hospital. What’s the deal?
A: We transported 27 guests from PKI. I don’t know about the number of guests who may have walked in on their own.

Q: Who is inspecting the ride?
A: On Monday, the Ohio Department of Agriculture and OSHA ride inspectors, as well as industry experts, arrived at the park to begin their inspection process.

Q: How is PKI assisting with the inspection?
A: We are cooperating fully with the Department of Agriculture. In addition, engineers and safety managers from Cedar Fair and PKI, as well as PKI ride maintenance technicians are assisting with the inspection.

Q: What have you learned from the inspection?
A: Preliminary evidence indicates there is a cracked vertical wooden post. Preliminary reports also indicate that this would not have been found by our pre-opening inspections and likely happened just before or right as the incident occurred.

Q: How long will the inspection take?
A: It could take weeks.

Q: When will the ride reopen?
A: The ride will remain closed until we are completely satisfied that the ride is safe.

Q: Where is the cracked wooden post?
A: In the rosebowl.

Q: Is the loop separating?
A: No.

Q: Is the loop dangerous?
A: No.

Q: Why is a train stopped on the tracks?
A: Two trains can’t be in the station at the same time. Therefore, to get the guests out of one train, another must leave the station.

Q: Were guests in the stopped train? Did they have to walk down the hill?
A: No. The train was empty.

Q: Why is it still there?
A: The inspection is in its early stages and we don’t want to jeopardize it by sending a train through a complete cycle.

Q: Why were empty cars sent out of the station before this incident occurred?
A: We had a biohazard incident earlier, and our park protocol for this insists that checks must be conducted before we can load guests again.

Q: How many board feet of lumber will the Department of Agriculture inspect?
A: 2.5 million board feet of lumber will be inspected.

Q: What is the daily maintenance done on Son of Beast? A:
1) Mechanical (PKI Maintenance)
2) Electrical (PKI Maintenance)
3) Operational (PKI Rides Operations)

Park maintenance technicians walk every inch of wooden track to complete the daily inspection.

During daily inspections, workers look for anything unusual including loose fasteners, deteriorating wood, misalignment of steel and wood connections. They will also test all safety systems and thoroughly review the trains to insure they are operating correctly.

All inspection processes are based on master check lists, developed specifically for Son of Beast.

A boom lift is used by the park for the sole purpose of inspecting the loop on Son of Beast every day.

Q: Didn’t PKI file suit against the manufacturer of Son of Beast?
A: Yes

Q: Wasn’t a part of the suit regarding sub grade wood?
A: Yes. However, all lumber determined to be sub grade was replaced or reinforced before the ride opened in 2000.

Q: Was any of the wood mentioned above in the area we’re focused on now?
A: No.

Q: Did PKI get a hefty sum of money when the lawsuit was finished? Some $20 million? Why wasn’t this reinvested in the ride?
A: We have received a judgment on this case, and we are in the process of recovering a portion of the money promised. At this time, we have received no money as a result of this lawsuit.

Q: How many guests does each train hold?
A: 30 guests. Five cars to a train.

Q: How many guests have ridden this attraction since it opened?
A: We have provided nearly 6 million safe rides since the ride opened in 2000.

Q: Why didn’t the ride open with the park on Sunday?
A: As mentioned above, wood coasters require extensive inspection before they can open. If irregularities are found, we tend to them immediately. This can take time. There was work down in a different area of the ride than the area in question.

Q: Does maintenance happen daily?
A: Yes. Safety is our top priority at PKI, there is no doubt about that. We will never open a ride to our guests unless we are completely confident that the ride is safe.

Q: What about the work done over the winter?
A: We did an extensive amount of work during the off season to improve the comfort of the ride experience.

Q: When was the ride certified by the state?
A: May 19

Q: Is there wood hanging from the track?
A: No.

Q: Did Cedar Fair voluntarily close the ride Sunday?
A: Yes. Our ride operators were fantastic. They recognized the issue and took steps to ensure safety. This set the wheels in motion at PKI. We responded immediately and continue to respond to guest needs.

Q: Have you talked directly with the media at all? Or are you just releasing statements and stonewalling them?
A: We held a press conference on Sunday night. I did interviews with news crews all day yesterday. My job is to keep people informed and I will do that until this story is complete. We utilize a variety of methods to do this – statements, press conferences, one-on-one interviews.

Q: Am I safe on roller coasters?
A: YES

Q: Am I safe at PKI?
A: YES!! I can’t stress enough how important safety is to our guests. Any hint that we’re not serious about that is, frankly, ridiculous and horribly untrue. We exist to provide safe and memorable experiences for our guests and will do everything in our power to provide just that.

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