When you think about amusement parks or traveling fairs, chances are you picture spinning rides, carnival games, lively shows and delicious food. Commonly billed as fun for the whole family, this type of entertainment is supposed to be full of opportunities to make great memories. No one visits a festival or a theme park thinking they could be hurt or killed, but the truth is accidents do happen.
Amusement Park Accidents Happen in Kentucky More Than You ThinkJust this July, twelve people were injured when the Jitterbug Swing ride tipped over at Beech Bend Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky. While the cause is still under investigation, it has been alleged that the park’s owners were negligent in maintaining the ride, as well as in training their employees. In August, the Dragon Coaster at the same park derailed, although no injuries were reported in that incident. In 2013, the scenic train at the Louisville Zoo was reopened after having been closed for four years due to a derailment that injured 17 people. Notably, in 2007, a 13-year-old girl’s feet were severed by a snapped cable on the Superman: Tower of Power drop tower at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville. The ride was immediately closed, and the girl’s family successfully sued the park with the help of a personal injury lawyer.
State Regulators Set Amusement Park Ride RegulationsWhen a ride comes into Kentucky, it must be inspected and approved before it can be put into use. Even after a ride is approved, inspectors can come back at any time for another look, and they have the authority to shut down the ride if there are any problems. Fixed rides must be inspected daily by the operator and must be inspected at least once a year by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture Office of Consumer and Environmental Protection. It is this agency that must be notified within 12 hours of an accident. Similar to what happens at a crime scene, ride investigators secure the accident location to make sure nothing is moved, take photos, and gather statements from the witnesses and the ride operators.
Common Causes of Amusement Park Accidents
- Sudden starts and stops
- Electrical shorts and failures
- Failure to post warning notices
- Failure to shut off or come to an emergency stop
- Improper assembly or installation
- Overcrowding the ride
- Improper height or weight restrictions
- Improper loading and unloading of passengers
- Improper maintenance
- Loose cables
- Malfunctioning lap bars and safety lock failures
- Operator error.