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Teen injured on Busch Gardens' Alpengeist

2006-08-11

By Robert Niles: We're getting word of a 17-year-old breaking his leg on Alpengeist at Busch Gardens Europe in Williamsburg, Virginia.

According to initial reports from James City County fire officials, the boy fractured his femur in two places while riding, at about 5:20 p.m. Now, here's where the story gets unusual. Park officials said that the victim suffered from a pre-existing medical condition that affected his legs. So, as a result, the teen was airlifted from BGE's parking lot to a Children's Hospital in Norfolk, which, apparently, is the only hospital in the area with experience treating this condition. (FWIW, I'm still awaiting word on what the condition is.)

Alpengeist is B&M inverted coaster, where riders' legs dangle freely during the ride. How that combined with whatever this condition turns out to be to result in multiple leg fractures, I suppose we'll have to await an explanation.

Readers' Opinions

From Derek Potter on August 11, 2006 at 9:56 PM
This is a surreal story. Alpengeist is an inverted coaster where your feet dangle, but do people have any idea just what it takes to fracture a femur? The force of Alpengeist is nowhere near that powerful. There is a preexisting condition of some sort here.

That being said, this kind of injury is very serious and also life threatening. Victims can experience all kinds of trauma from such a break. The femur is a vital part of the human body. My thoughts and prayers to the victim and the family go out.

From Erik Yates on August 12, 2006 at 5:29 AM
It really seems like there are all of a sudden a lot of "pre-existing conditions." Thats the new buzzword of the theme park industry. I wonder if the family knew about the PEC..
On another note, I dislocated my knee yesterday on Dueling Dragons...of course I did the same thing two weeks ago when I fell into a hole and twisted my knee out of place...so the force,if the condition is there, is enough to blow out knees and posibly crack femurs.
From Jason Jackson on August 12, 2006 at 6:41 AM
This came from the WTKR website:
"According to a James City County Fire official a teen was injured at Busch Gardens today and Nightingale was called in to airlift him out of the Scotland Parking area.

It happened around 5:20pm Friday night.

James City County Fire officials say the 17-year-old fractured his femur in two places. They say he was lucky the fractures didn't cause more damage to his leg. They believe the teen will be okay after treatment.

According to Busch Gardens officials the teen had a pre-existing medical condition involving the bones in his legs. He received multiple fractures while riding the roller coaster Alpengeist.

On this ride, passengers sit in rows of seats that are suspended from a track. This allows the riders legs to dangle in the air.

They say the choice was made to fly him to Norfolk because of traffic and the fact that the only doctor that can treat this condition is at Children's Hospital of the Kings Daughters."

From Fran Emory on August 12, 2006 at 7:22 AM
It will be interesting to find out what the "pre-exisitng condition" is. It could be anything from brittle bone disease to fibrous dysplasia. The fact that he was lifted to Children's Hospital makes me believe it is something unusual.

On another note, I love Alpengiest! Even though it feels a bit more rough with age, it still isn't enough to fracture a healthy femur.

From Daniel Binder on August 12, 2006 at 7:29 AM
Erik, you dislocated your knee on Dragons ? During the ride or the walk ? If the ride, at what point ? The peak of one of the inversions ?
From Dustin Kern on August 12, 2006 at 7:58 AM
You almost have to start to wonder why all of a sudden, anytime someone gets injured at a theme park, they had a 'pre-existing' factor. I can understand heart conditions because the people that have been getting injured are in the age group where they aren't getting tested for heart problems. For all we know, hiw pre-existing condition could've been the fact that he had broken his femur before and the doctor's didn't set it right.

My condolences go out to the injured party and his family. May he recover quickly and without complications that will keep him from being able to do the things that he loves.

From Adrienne McDonald on August 12, 2006 at 8:18 AM
Well I have a condition where my knees will dislocate themselves at random. I could be sitting in a seat talking to someone, shift in my seat the wrong way & my knee (either one) will slip outta place--PAINFUL! I rode Alpingeist with no problem but whenever I ride an inverted coaster, I keep my legs tucked under the bottom in case something like that happens but if this boy knew he had a rare condition or any condition, he shudda known better not to ride or thought to keep his legs tucked under the bottom. I guess he didn't think of that. I ALWAYS hafta be careful no matter what I do.
From Erik Yates on August 12, 2006 at 10:17 AM
Daniel, I was on Ice, and it happened during the near miss inversion with Fire, the second one where Ice is below Fire. It kind of just popped out and twisted. It took a minute to get me off the ride and I was escorted to First Aid (a little room off the side) where I popped it back into place with much cursing and yelling. Poor ride ops, the last thing I'm sure they wanted to see is a fatman cussing.
Adrienne, thats becoming the point of my knee. It gets worse as I get heavier and older. And is becoming a sure sign that I need to drop at least 20 lbs.
From Robert OGrosky on August 12, 2006 at 11:08 AM
Its bad the kid got hurt, but if his pre-existing condition was so bad it could cause a serious injury he shouldnt have ridden the ride in the first place.
Lets hope this doesnt result in another baseless lawsuit as im sure the ambulance chasing lawyer brigade will be stalking him big time!!
From Derek Potter on August 12, 2006 at 6:36 PM
This reminds me of shark summer a couple years ago. There were no more shark attacks that year than any other one, but media attention blew it out of proportion. The vast majority of ride incidents this are because of preexisting conditions. Always have been, always will be. If millions can ride it every year with no ill effects, than it really can't be said that the ride is a hazard to the public. The Son of Beast incident was a structural thing, but thats pretty much the only instance this year. By the way, Kings Island now has to rebuild part of the ride under state supervision for that one.
From Jason Jackson on August 12, 2006 at 10:58 PM
Sounds like Brittle Bone Syndrome.
From James Adams on August 14, 2006 at 10:11 AM
I agree. This is starting to feel ALOT like shark summer. It got so bad that year that if someone just thought they saw a shark it made national news. I think the media is starting to create a circus by reporting anything that happens on a roller coaster. What we are finding out is that most of what happens on coasters is safe unless someone has an issue. Maybe we really should take those disclaimers seriously.
From melissa faulkner on August 14, 2006 at 1:19 PM
My husband has osteogenisimperfecta (brittle bone disease). He was born with it and spent most of his childhood in one cast or another. He can just be walking across the room and break a foot bone. He loves to ride coaters and we always know something could happen, it doesn't stop him and we ahve been very lucky. He hasn't injured anything on a ride. Maybe this boy has something like that, if so I feel bad for him.
From Kim Wilson on August 16, 2006 at 4:57 AM
I am sorry that the teen was injured, but people have got to start paying attention to the signs in front of these rides. From my understanding, the teen did have a pre-existing condition and though he may have wanted to ride, he should not have. Only the people getting on these rides truly know their own conditions and weaknesses. It comes down to taking responsibilty for your actions. Just this past weekend I was going to ride corkscrew hill, there was an elderly lady walking through the cave to ride it, I was behind her. This lady was not walking alone, she required assistance of two other women on each side to help her walk, just looking at her screamed fragile. They finally stopped to let me pass and I did comment to them "you are aware this is a fairly rough ride?", they said "yes". Needless to say, they turned back and did not ride. My point, they knew the ride was rough and were going to ignore obvious physical limitations. The park can't play police, they can only post the warnings, otherwise they would be accused of discrimination.

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