Saturday, June 30, 2007

Killer carnival rides

A 20-something girl was killed last night on the Mind Scrambler at a county amusement park just north of NYC - apparently the fourth death at that park in as many years. This is exactly why I often avoid anything remotely dangerous at amusement parks, particularly traveling carnival rides, which are taken apart so often that riders can see loose screws and smell wet glue while they're holding on for dear life.

MSNBC reports:

The indoor attraction spins riders around in a darkened tent with flashing lights. It was the scene of another deadly accident on May 22, 2004. Stephanie Dieudonne, 7, wriggled free of the restraining bar on one of the cars, knelt on the seat and fell soon after the ride started, according to investigators.

The amusement park was not cited for any violations or required to make improvements to the ride after the girl’s death, but officials announced plans to add seat belts, more lighting and a second attendant at the Mind Scrambler.

Friday’s accident marked the fourth fatality within as many years at the county-owned Playland, a National Historic Landmark that opened in 1928. After the Mind Scrambler accident in 2004, a 7-year-old boy was killed the next year when he climbed out of his boat ride and fell, according to investigators. A 43-year-old man drowned after wading into a lake at the park on July 4, 2006.

And if the rides don't kill you, there's still a chance you might not walk away. There was a gory accident at Six Flags in Louisville, KY, last week:

A 13-year-old girl's feet were severed just above the ankles Thursday as she rode the Superman Tower of Power ride, park officials said. The ride lifts passengers 177 feet straight up, then drops 154 feet, reaching a speed of 54 mph, according to the park's Web site.

I've always gone on rides at Disney World, though, banking on the assumption that any efforts to sweep an accident under the rug would quickly make me a wealthy woman (and if I croaked, my family owning a nice chunk of central Florida). Either way, at least there'd be a silver lining, right? *smirk*)

But these reports just legitimize any misgivings I've long had about rides in general, so I'm just not sure how I feel now. It makes you wonder if those urban legends we grew up with (you know, like the man being decapitated on Space Mountain at Disney World) were really true.

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