Amusement Park Safety Under Scrutiny After Two Major Accidents

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It can only be described as a parent’s worst nightmare. A day of fun at an amusement park winds up affecting the rest of your life. Two recent amusement park accidents have reignited concern over just how safe these rides are. A 10-year-old boy was killed while riding on a large water slide, and the next day three girls fell to the ground when the basket they were seated in overturned on a Ferris wheel.

Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas is home to the world’s tallest water slide, Verruckt, which translates from German to “insane.” People must climb 264 steps to get on the ride. That is only 90 less steps than it takes to climb to the crown of the Statue of Liberty. The slide’s main attraction is traveling down a 168-foot drop in a raft that can travel up to 70 miles per hour. Kansas state representative Scott Schwab recently took his family to the park, but his 10-year-old son did not survive his turn on Verruckt.

The child was sitting in the front of a raft with two women as the ride started. By the end, the boy’s body was found lying at the bottom with a fatal neck injury. The two women on the raft suffered minor facial abrasions. Riders are secured into the raft with nylon straps which fasten with Velcro, not with any type of buckle. There are also ropes in the raft to hold on to during the descent. Many riders have complained about the straps coming loose or completely undone during the ride. The slide remains closed indefinitely as the investigation continues into the young boy’s death.

The following day at a county fair in Tennessee, three girls were on a Ferris wheel when their car suddenly tipped over, sending them 35-40 feet to the ground. Reports indicate a mechanical failure caused their car to get caught on a bar as it started to go up. A 16-year-old girl was in critical condition and downgraded to stable. The two other girls were sisters, ages six and ten. The 10-year-old suffered a badly broken arm, with the 6-year-old enduring the worst injuries. The young girl has a concussion and small brain bleed, but her parents report she is making progress. The fair has shut down all rides until they are deemed safe. One inspector noted that there were no seat belts located in the baskets of the Ferris wheel.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that last year, ride related injuries sent 7,000 people to the emergency room. Officials at the Kansas waterpark say their slides are inspected every day and also inspected by an outside company before the park opens for the summer. In Tennessee, the Ferris wheel was inspected on June 21st with no violations, and now four separate inspectors are looking into what caused the mechanical failure.

We are left to wonder though if all of this is enough, and if an amusement park is a safe place to be. No family should have to experience the effects of the devastating injuries suffered by these children. If you or someone you love has been injured due to an accident at an amusement park, you need the lawyers who will fight hard for you and your family. Contact the experienced and compassionate attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C., today.