Every year, thousands of people visit theme parks and water parks in Georgia and elsewhere. They may not be in good hands. After a series of accidents on roller coasters, fairground rides and water parks, amusement park safety is being questioned.
Although some accidents are caused by operator failure, extreme rides may also suffer from design flaws. This was tragically illustrated by an accident at a water park in Kansas two years ago.
A 10-year-old boy was decapitated riding the Verruckt water slide at the Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City, Kansas in 2016.
A grand jury indictment was unsealed in March. It claimed the waterslide hyped as the world’s highest was a “deadly weapon.” The ride injured more than a dozen people before the child’s death. Charges of involuntary manslaughter were brought against the water park operator and an executive with involuntary manslaughter.
The indictment alleges that the defendants knew that the raft Caleb Schwab and two women rode during the deadly accident was prone to go faster and become airborne more than other on the ride. It was removed twice but put back into circulation before the deadly incident, the Denver Post reported.
The indictment claimed Verruckt complied with few safety standards established by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
Investigators found 13 prior injuries to riders including two concussions and a case where a 15-year-old girl was temporarily blinded.
It’s alarming that a major amusement park allowed a ride as dangerous as this to ever be built. The fact accidents were apparently ignored raises wider questions about amusement park safety.
Verruckt was clearly at the extreme end of the scale but accidents have occurred across the country including in Georgia.
In 2017, at the time a ride at the Ohio State Fair malfunctioning, killing one and injuring seven others, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution highlighted amusement park accidents in Georgia.
Back in 1984, a computer malfunction on the Great Air Racer at Six Flags Over Georgia caused the ride’s cables to drop the planes out of position, injuring 34 people. In 2005, two 12-year-old girls were on a carnival ride in Ellijay when a trailer awning opened in front of them, causing lacerations to their legs.
In 2006, an electrical accident near Jasper’s Fun Slide ride caused the death of a 3-year-old child. In 2008, a teen was decapitated by a roller coaster at Six Flags Over Georgia. He hopped over fences and entered a restricted area before his death.
Two years ago, the parents of a girl who died of a lung illness filed a wrongful death suit against Six Flags multiple hospitals. They claimed their daughter’s lungs were damaged by chemicals in a wave pool at the park.
The oversight of amusement parks and fairs is a cause for concern. The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission regulated both fixed-site amusement parks and mobile carnivals decades ago.
Congress revoked that authority for fixed-site parks like Disney and Six Flags theme parks in the 1980s. The move transferred oversight to state or local government control. It kept federal regulation for mobile carnivals. Oversight is patchy across the nation.
The commission is aware of 22 deaths nationwide associated with amusement attractions since 2010. The figure excludes deaths from waterparks.
Although you are far less likely to be injured at amusement parks, fairs, carnivals or water parks than on the highway, accidents happen. They are often serious. Amusement park safety remains a cause for concern in Georgia.
If you or a loved one has been hurt on a rollercoaster or another ride, you may be entitled to compensation. Please contact the Law Office of Michael West today.