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Robert Niles
Editor

Summer theme park death toll rises, again

Published: August 17, 2006 at 9:39 AM

By my count, the number of people who died this season on or during attractions is up to seven now.

http://www.themeparkinsider.com/accidents/list.cfm

The latest was a 10-year-old girl with a heart condition at Illinois' Six Flags Great America, last night.

Of the seven deaths, two were of employees. All the remaining five guest deaths appear to have been from pre-existing medical conditions.

So... when was your last complete health physical? If it was more than 12 months ago, give your doctor a call. Today.

Replies (15)

Michelle Seago

Published: August 18, 2006 at 12:45 AM

When I first read this e-mail, I decided to read back into past accounts of injuries and deaths at theme parks. I never expected to see what I saw. Yes, some people had pre-existing conditions and should not have even been on the rides. Some people didn't even know they had pre-existing conditions. Maybe some people might have done something they shouldn't have done. Maybe some operators/employees could have done more or did something wrong; like the case of the employee who walked across the tracks of a ride that was moving, and he died. And Yes, there are problems with some rides. But what really bothered me were some of the attitudes people had. Not everyone. Some people are seriously afraid or honestly concerned and saddened by the accidents that have caused injuries and loss of life. But many of the responses have been, " the worst part is that we didn't even get to ride it that day." Or,"we had to stand in line for 2 hours". I wonder how people can think like that and who would even want to ride on a ride that someone was just killed on. Especially when no one knows what caused the accident.
Greg Rusnak

Published: August 18, 2006 at 6:51 AM

Michelle makes a great point. Our thoughts condemn us in those times. We all need to ask Christ for forgiveness. Another lesson we can get out of this...none of us are guaranteed one more day. Let's remember our Creator while we still have time.
Coaster Enthusiast

Published: August 18, 2006 at 6:56 AM

I'm sad to say I was slightly offended by that comment: "We all need to ask Christ for forgiveness."
While I don't think the post has to be removed; Greg has every right for his freedom of speech; it is not Christ we should ask forgiveness: it's each other.

This young girl was "running to rejoin her family members when she collapsed." She had just exited from a ride (unknown at this point), and her family witnessed her demise.

As for pre-existing conditions: I suffer from extreme high blood pressure and epilepsy. I used to be a 'daredevil' and defeat many rides' safety devises for a more 'thrilling' experience. I no longer take risks with my own life and (nearing 50 years of age) I no longer ride mechanical thrill rides. If something were to happen to me on an attraction, not only could I end up dead, my family would grieve, and my passing would disrupt the lives of many others.

Robert OGrosky

Published: August 18, 2006 at 10:58 AM

While any time someone dies it is sad news, i think the attention to theme parks death is being blown way out of proporton, alot of this is done for pr reasons.
The 10 yr old girl just rode a very tame child/family coaster and then died.
This could have happened while playing in the park and wouldnt have gotten any national attention and likely only a little locally.
Unless the death is the result of a ride malfunction or operator error it has nothing to do with a theme park and could have happened anywhere. Its also sad that a theme park site is blowing this out of proportion when most of these deaths werre the resul;t of pre-existing health problems and not malfesance on the part of theme parks!!!!
matt mornan

Published: August 18, 2006 at 11:12 AM

I think this is more a statement of the health of America as opposed to a statement of safety at theme parks. I don't think it's being blown out of proportion at all. If anything, it raises awareness of your health and the warning signs at these parks that are trying to protect you from death/injury.
Derek Potter

Published: August 18, 2006 at 12:43 PM

Very sad indeed. Preexisting condition it was found to be....again, although it's not even known what she was riding in the kiddieland. It happened while she was running to her parents. Thoughts and prayers go to the family. A ten year old dying under any circumstances is a tragedy.

That all being said, would this be in the news if it happened at... say a restaurant or a minature golf course? I hate to say it, but the theme park death story is getting to be old. I have a question. How many deaths were there last year, or how about each year for the last ten years. Does anyone have those statistics. I imagine that if we can find those numbers, we would probably find that the numbers are similar, and that this ongoing story is another example of the media taking a story and running with it. It is important to check yourself and make sure you are fit to ride, but don't let this be another media scare story. (I won't get on that soapbox..at least not yet anyway) Know your limitations, but go to the park and still have fun.

Dallas Key

Published: August 18, 2006 at 1:25 PM

I have to agree with Derek's last comment. But I think one of the worst things about this is that many theme parks are developing really bad reputations because of these incidents, while a majority of the accidents occur because of a lack of discretion. I don't mean to come off as insensitive, and my prayers do go out to all families affected by these tragedies, but I still think this lack of discretion is a major problem in parks today.
Chance Bush

Published: August 18, 2006 at 1:40 PM

This Summer, my son and I were standing in line and Goliath was temporarily shut down. Apparently there was something on the rollercoaster that needed "welding" if you can believe a park employee told me that was the reason the ride was shut down. I asked "WHAT" they had to "weld". No one had an answer. I think it's important that people respect the warnings and take care when they get on a ride- ANYTHING can happen on one of these rides.
Chris P.

Published: August 18, 2006 at 2:46 PM

All of you are saying that theme parks are safe and its the person's fault for not reading warning signs, but if someone of the general public would come across this site, they would probably think otherwise. Most if not all of the articles here have been negative, and alot of the other news is being missed. I guess since we were all caught up in theme park safety we forgot Disney World got a new president, a new Legoland park has been considered for Olathe,KS, and alot of other news....
Christopher Reilley

Published: August 18, 2006 at 7:35 PM

Its sad that another person has died especially at that age but The press always makes such a big deal out of it and blows these out of proportion. Yet how many people die each day in the US due to car accidents,or at their work .The press Loves to blast these stories and ask just how safe theme parks are .From experance and and watching the the news I'd say there a heck of alot safer than it is driving your car to the store I watched a show on this on cable awhile back and the vast mojority of injuries and deaths are do to riders not following the safty rules or using common sense or parents not paying attention to their kids .IE a 5 yr old boy had his foot run over at Disneyland on Big Thunder Mountain because the mother was to busy with another child then contends its Disny's fault for not covering how kids should disembark from the train .It all comes down to common sense and personel responsility.Plain and simple fact I've learned after 20yrs of visiting Theme parks.Their rides are safer to be on than it is to drive a car to work or anywhere else
Anthony Murphy
Writer

Published: August 20, 2006 at 11:45 AM

AHHHH, in my home state's park!!!!


Greg Mills

Published: August 20, 2006 at 8:36 PM

Chance Bush, whoever you are...what on EARTH are you talking about??? What does this have to do with anything? And yes, I CAN believe a park employee told you the reason the ride was shut down. These rides cost millions of dollars, and it's not just the steel/wood and machinery that's costing all that. Quit trying to scare everybody and let us have our damn fun.

As for this little girl, I really feel sorry for her. I don't want to imagine what that'd be like to see your daughter just collapse and die in front of you. Nobody should ever see their children die before them, ever.

That aside, however, this cannot be blamed on the park, or its staff. I'm not a huge Six Flags fan, but I know they wouldn't wish this to happen.

Anthony Murphy
Writer

Published: August 21, 2006 at 7:07 AM

Well this just shows how very little something can cause such health problems! Have anybody ever been on the Jetsons? It is not at all intense. In fact, I am pretty sure that the car ride home from Six Flags would be more intense! However, why is this happening all of a sudden. Have we all just gotten unhealthy?
James Adams

Published: August 21, 2006 at 9:43 AM

Anytime something bad happens, we (being human) attempt to try and understand the situation and explain it away. Why? Because that makes us feel better about life and feel safer living. It's a false security, but security nevertheless. There will be two camps, those who blame the parks and those who blame the victim. The reality is that no one is to blame. Theme parks cannot account and prepare for every medical issue - if they did, there would be no such thing as theme parks or parks for tat matter. But, the victims are not at fault either. Unless you are old, overweight, have had signficiant medical issues, or are a hypochondriac a doctor will not give you a stress test or a functional EKG. So, 90 % of us really don't know what our heart can take. Bad things just happen periodically - it's part of the wildly unpredictableness of life.
Ken Martin

Published: August 23, 2006 at 1:54 PM

Pre-existing condition or not, a child on a ride or attraction designed for a 170 pound adult just leave too many questions unanswered for me.

A 10 year old child's body is no where near fully developed. Not to mention handling the forces and stress a ride or attraction may have.

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