NBC News recently reported on an injury that occurred on the Ninja rollercoaster at the Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park in California. A tree branch caused the rollercoaster car to actually jump the tracks and derail! Luckily there were relatively minor injuries. This story caught my attention for two reasons: 1. The Ninja was actually my very first roller coaster experience; and 2. Florida has no shortage of theme parks, water parks, county fairs and carnivals that are potential sources of amusement park injuries.
I should start by mentioning that, statistically speaking, roller coasters are very safe – there is approximately one injury for every 24 million riders. However, roller coasters and other theme-park rides seem to be getting taller and going faster to attract thrill seekers.
In 2013 and 2014 there seemed to be an uptick in roller coaster accidents/incidents. You may recall reading about the Universal Studios coaster Rip Ride Rocket, which stalled and caused people to be stuck in an awkward vertical position for hours. Another ride at Universal Studios had theme-park goers stuck upside down! In Texas, a Six Flags Theme park roller coaster had a safety harness fail mid-ride, flinging a theme-park goer out of her seat (unfortunately she did not survive and a wrongful death suit is pending). At Cedar Point in Ohio a log-flume ride flipped over after falling backward injuring seven.