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Incidents at Six Flags parks

This is a summary of notable incidents that have taken place at amusement parks, water parks, or theme parks currently owned or managed by Six Flags. This list is not intended to be a comprehensive list of every such event, but only those that have a significant impact on the parks or park operations, or are otherwise significantly newsworthy. In some cases, incidents occurred while the park was under different management or owners.

The term incidents refers to major accidents, injuries, or deaths that occur at a park. While these incidents were required to be reported to regulatory authorities due to where they occurred, they usually fall into one of the following categories:

  1. Caused by negligence on the part of the guest. This can be refusal to follow specific ride safety instructions, or deliberate intent to break park rules.
  2. The result of a guest's known or unknown health issues.
  3. Negligence on the part of the park, either by ride operator or maintenance.
  4. Act of God or a generic accident (e.g. lightning strike, slipping and falling), that is not a direct result of an action on anybody's part.

Please see the references for each listed item for specific details.

Six Flags America

Octopus

  • On August 3, 2007, an unidentified 6-year-old girl fell from the Octopus while the ride was in motion and suffered minor injuries to her head, hip, and leg. Reports from eyewitnesses vary on the distance she fell, ranging from to . Park officials said that they believe she fell because she was standing up while the ride was moving.

Two Face: The Flip Side

  • On October 6, 2007, the ride malfunctioned causing the cars to become caught on the ramp. Once the cars became dislodged, the hydraulic line was severed and hydraulic fluid was sprayed onto multiple riders. In total, twelve people needed medical attention, two of whom were taken to the hospital to be treated.

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Boomerang

  • On August 24, 1999, 28 passengers were stranded on the Boomerang ride for several hours. The shuttle that pulled the train up an incline failed to release the train, and riders were rescued by firefighters in cherry pickers.

Scat-a-bout

  • On September 4, 1999 a boy was injured when he slipped below the restraining bar on the Scat-a-bout, a "scrambler"-type ride. The boy was thrown from the ride and landed in a nearby planter, receiving cuts on his legs. The park later stated that the accident was the result of the nine-year-old boy intentionally sliding beneath the safety restraint.

Starfish

  • In May 2001, a 41-year-old woman from Antioch, California was thrown from the ride when a restraining bar failed as the result of a pneumatic valve being incorrectly installed. She landed on the pavement and suffered head and knee injuries. Her later lawsuit named both the park and ride manufacturer Chance Rides as responsible parties.
  • On June 8, 2002 a 4-year-old girl was critically injured when she slipped beneath the restraining bar and fell from the Starfish ride, receiving critical head injuries.Investigators later blamed park employees for incorrectly seating the girl and not having proper signage indicating the proper seating arrangement for a larger and smaller rider.

Animal Attacks

  • On January 5, 1996 two trainers were attacked by cougars during an exercise session. One trainer was in the cougar enclosure to take one of the animals for a walk. The cougars, Zuni and Tonto, had been playing amongst themselves and began aggressively playing with him, causing severe cuts on his face and upper torso. The backup trainer suffered minor cuts and bruises in his attempt to free the other.
  • On July 31, 1998, Kuma, a two year old Bengal tiger attacked and seriously injured a guest from San Jose, California and slightly injured the trainer. The incident happened in a secluded area of the park set up to do private photo sessions with the big cats. The tiger was apparently startled when the guest fell off the photo platform and landed on top of her. The trainer suffered a clawing while trying to free the guest who had received serious injuries to her head and upper torso.
  • On June 2, 2004, a 23 year old African elephant named Micha gored her trainer while in her enclosure as the trainer walked beside her. This was Micha's second aggressive act following a previous swipe at a trainer two years prior.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas

Guest altercations

  • On July 11, 2007, park employees confronted a 37-year-old man who was acting suspiciously with a video camera. San Antonio police were called, and he was arrested for allegedly secretly videotaping young girls at the water park. He was charged with improper photography or visual recording, or taping someone without consent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of a person.

Six Flags Great Adventure

Rolling Thunder

  • On August 16, 1981, 20-year-old park employee Scott Tyler of Middletown fell to his death from the Rolling Thunder roller coaster during a routine test run. An investigation by the New Jersey Labor Department concluded that the man may not have secured himself with the safety bar. A park representative later confirmed this conclusion, saying that the employee "may have assumed an unauthorized riding position that did not make use of safety restraints." The ride was inspected, and the Labor Department concluded that the ride was "operationally and mechanically sound.

Haunted Castle

  • On May 11 1984, eight teenage visitors were trapped and killed when the Haunted Castle at Six Flags Great Adventure attraction in Jackson Township, New Jersey was destroyed by fire. Six Flags Great Adventure and its parent company Six Flags were subsequently indicted for aggravated manslaughter, accused of recklessly causing the deaths by taking inadequate precautions against a fire. In the subsequent trial, the prosecution argued that repeated warnings by safety consultants to install sprinklers or smoke alarms had been ignored. The defendants denied any culpability, and contended that the fire was arson and that no precautions would have saved lives. The trial jury found the defendants not guilty.

Lightnin' Loops

  • On June 17, 1987, 19-year-old Karen Brown died after falling from the Lightnin' Loops shuttle loop roller coaster. An investigation by the State Labor Department concluded that the ride itself was operating properly, but that the ride operator started the ride without checking that all of the passengers were secured by the safety harnesses. The Department's Office of Safety Compliance further concluded that the accident would not have occurred had proper procedures been followed. The park was found to be in violation of the Carnival/Amusement Ride Safety Act and was subsequently charged with the maximum state fines of $1,000.

Six Flags Great America

Cajun Cliffhanger

  • On July 19, 2000, a 12-year-old girl from McHenry, Illinois suffered two crushed toes after the floor of the ride was improperly raised prior to the ride coming to complete stop. A second guest also had her foot trapped in this accident. The ride was permanently shut down as part of an out-of-court settlement. In the ten years prior to this accident, there were thirteen other reported incidents involving the Cajun Cliffhanger ride, at least six of which involved injuries.

Camp Cartoon Network

  • On August 16, 2006, a 10-year-old girl from Arlington Heights, Illinois collapsed and died after riding rides in the Camp Cartoon Network area. An autopsy showed that she died of a congenital heart condition. Her family says that she had a history of heart trouble.

The Demon

  • On April 18, 1998, 23 riders on the Demon roller coaster were stranded upside-down in the middle of a vertical loop. Firefighters used a cherry picker to bring riders to safety, although some were on the ride for as long as three hours. The incident was the result of a mechanical failure.

The Edge

  • On May 22, 1984, 3 unnamed teenage boys were seriously injured when the ride vehicle fell back down the lift shaft.

Hurricane Harbor

Ragin' Cajun

  • On May 29, 2004, 52-year-old ride mechanic Jack Brouse of Zion, Illinois was killed by a roller-coaster car as he attempted to cross the tracks. Suffering from a traumatic head injury, he died at a local hospital.

Raging Bull

  • On May 3, 2003, 11-year-old Erica Emmons of Gary, Indiana collapsed after riding the Raging Bull coaster. She died after being taken to the hospital. While initial reports said that she died from choking on taffy she had been eating while on the ride, the coroner's report later stated that she died due to an "enlarged heart" heart condition, and had been seeing a cardiologist for treatment.

Willard's Whizzer

Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom

Starchaser

  • On July 26, 1994, five unidentified riders were injured when two cars collided in an incident that inspectors said was due to operator error. After the accident, the park filed suit against Louisville, Kentucky television station WHAS-TV for reporting on the accident in a misleading and malicious manner. The station had inaccurately reported that the ride malfunctioned, was dangerous, and that the park had removed a "key component" of the ride. The station lost the lawsuit and was ordered to pay US$3 million to the park.

Superman Tower of Power

  • On June 21, 2007, a 13-year-old female from Louisville, Kentucky had both feet severed above the ankle by a snapped cable, caused by an unidentified ride malfunction. In reaction to this accident, at least nine similar rides around the world were closed for inspection at Gröna Lund in Stockholm, Sweden, Kennywood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and at parks run by Six Flags, Cedar Fair, and PARC Management. On July 3, 2007, the victim's family released a statement stating that her right foot had been successfully reattached. On July 13, 2007, the victim's family filed a lawsuit for unspecified damages against the park claiming that the park did not properly maintain the ride. On November 29, 2007, a judge in the Jefferson Circuit Court said that Six Flags could dismantle the ride beginning February 1, 2008. As of December 1, 2007, the ride's cable was still in storage awaiting lab tests. On May 30, 2008, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture released their report on the accident, concluding that the accident was due to a faulty cable, as well as poor operator training in that if the ride operators had acted to shut down the ride in a timely manner, guests would only have suffered minor cuts. The report also stated that the park was fined $1,000 for not properly maintaining the ride.

Six Flags Magic Mountain

  • There were 109 complaints by Magic Mountain guests due to various incidents, according to the 2006 annual report from the Amusement Safety Organization. Some reports were minor, ranging from nose bleeds and heat exhaustion, to neck and back injuries from various rides. Included in those 109 complaints were 18 reports of people blacking out on the Goliath roller coaster. Other complaints were safety-related, such as notices of ride operators talking on cell phones while operating rides. The same report stated that the state of California received notice of 80 injuries at Magic Mountain between January 2001 - December 2006.

Colossus

  • In 1978, 20-year-old Carolina Flores was ejected from the Colossus ride, and fell to her death.

Revolution

  • In 1996, part-time employee Cherie LaMotte was killed while crossing the tracks of the Revolution roller coaster. She was struck by a train full of park visitors as it returned to the station; both passengers and those waiting in line for the ride saw LaMotte fly into an area beneath the coaster, and she was pronounced dead at the scene from massive injuries.

Goliath

  • On June 2, 2001, 28-year-old Pearl Santos died of a brain aneurysm while riding Goliath. Her family sued the park, claiming that managers were aware of other complaints from Goliath riders and continued to operate the coaster anyway.

Scream!

  • On April 9, 2004, 21-year-old employee Bantita Rackchamroon died after being struck by the roller coaster Scream while on the tracks during a test run prior to the park's opening that day. The roller coaster was allowed to be re-opened the next day after an OSHA inspection found no mechanical issues.

Ninja

  • On August 30, 2008, a 20-year-old man was hospitalized after being hit by the train and knocked unconscious when he allegedly climbed multiple security fences to retrieve a hat.

Six Flags New England

Superman: Ride of Steel

  • On May 1, 2004, 55-year-old, 230 lb (100 kg) Stanley Mordarsky of Bloomfield, Connecticut fell out of his coaster seat during the last turn on the Superman coaster and was killed. Reports show that the ride attendant had not checked that Mr. Mordarsky's ride restraint was secure as his girth was too large for the T-bar-shaped ride restraint to close properly. His family said that due to his various medical conditions, such as cerebral palsy, he shouldn't have been allowed to ride. The park stated that the Federal Americans With Disabilities Act forbids them from denying a ride to a person with a disability as long as the person can get on the ride by themselves.

Six Flags New Orleans

Joker's Jukebox

  • On July 9, 2003, a 52-year-old grandmother from New Orleans, Louisiana was outside a ride vehicle strapping her 4-year-old grandson into his seat when the ride started. She died from blunt-force internal injuries after being struck by a ride vehicle. As of December 22, 2003, no lawsuit had been filed. The park added mirrors to the ride for ride operators to view around the blind spot where the accident occurred, and have added a safety announcement notifying guests that the ride is about to start.

Six Flags Over Georgia

Batman: The Ride

  • In May 2002, a 58-year-old Six Flags employee was struck in the head by the legs of a passenger after entering a restricted area during the ride's operation. He died in the hospital as a result of the injury.
  • On June 28, 2008, a 17-year-old male from Columbia, South Carolina was decapitated by a passing train after he hopped two six-foot fences and entered a restricted area. Initial reports said that the victim was allegedly trying to grab the feet of a rider as the train went by; later reports said that the victim was merely trying to retrieve a hat. Additional eyewitnesses stated that the young man and a companion were trying to take a shortcut back into the park after leaving the park for lunch. The companion was uninjured.

Goliath

  • In July 2006, 45-year-old Michael Corry of Birmingham, Alabama died of a heart attack while riding Goliath. He was alert during the ride, but was unconscious when the train arrived at the loading platform. Autopsy showed that the man had a congenital heart condition, and it was expected that the medical examiner would announce that he died of natural causes. Goliath was closed for two hours for an inspection, but was found to be operating normally.

Z-Force

  • On July 18, 1989, an 11-year-old boy from Talladega, Alabama became unconscious while riding Z-Force. Park staff performed CPR, but the victim was declared dead after being taken to the hospital. An autopsy failed to pinpoint the cause of death.

Great Air Racer

  • On May 27, 1984, 34 passengers were injured after a computer malfunction caused the ride's cables to drop the planes out of position.

Mind Bender

  • On June 3, 1984, a mechanical problem caused a train to stop abruptly, sending four people to a hospital. The ride was repaired and put back into service with no more problems.

Six Flags St. Louis

River King Mine Train / Rail Blazer

  • In July 1984, a 46-year-old woman was riding the Rail Blazer roller coaster when she was flung from the ride and fell to her death. Park officials claimed that the woman fainted and fell out of the car, but her husband, who had been beside her, said that she had not fainted but had simply been tossed from the ride when it whipped around a curve. At the time, the ride was only the third stand-up roller coaster in the world, but following this incident it was converted to a sit-down coaster.

Skyway

  • On July 26, 1978, three people died when their gondola fell from the cable.

Six Flags Over Texas

Texas Tornado

  • On March 12, 2006, seven people suffered minor injuries when the Texas Tornado was brought to an abrupt stop and several swing seats collided with each other. One person was sent to the hospital after complaints of back pain, the others were treated at the on-site first aid station.

Roaring Rapids

  • On March 21, 1999, 28-year-old Valeria Cartwright drowned, and 10 other guests were injured, when the raft they were on overturned in 2-3 feet of water due to sudden deflation of the air chambers that support the raft. The raft then got caught on an underwater pipe, which provided leverage for the rushing water in the ride to flip the boat over. In a subsequent settlement, Six Flags agreed to pay US$4 million to the Cartwright family, and the company would join the Cartwrights in a lawsuit against Canyon Manufacturing Co., the company responsible for parts that were related to the accident.

References

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