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Ohio blames design flaw for Kings Island coaster accident

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Published: December 13, 2006 at 2:32 PM

The Ohio Department of Agriculture has completed its investigation [press release and complete report, both PDF format] into last summer's accident on the Son of Beast roller coaster at Kings Island, located north of Cincinnati.

For those of you who've complained of a rough ride on this coaster -- you weren't imagining it. State investigators blamed the crash on design flaws in the coaster. Specifically, a vertical wooden support cracked because its design subjected it to more weight that it could bear. That, in turn, led to the failure of two other support legs, causing a dip in the track. The quality of the wood was fine -- it was the coaster's design that was flawed.

The state's ordered Kings Island to hire an engineering firm to examine and redesign the ride's support structure before the state will consider whether to reopen the coaster, which has been closed since the incident.

Readers' Opinions

From Chris P. on December 13, 2006 at 3:03 PM
They are removing the loop and will be adding lighter trains.
From Adrienne McDonald on December 13, 2006 at 5:59 PM
Well that's too bad. I never got to ride it, if they ARE removing the loop, I guess I'll hafta deal w/missing out on this one too! :( I HOPE no one was injured!
From Robert Niles on December 13, 2006 at 6:51 PM
More than 20 were taken to local hospitals. No fatalities, though. Click the accident link in the main blog post for the details.
From Mark Hollamon on December 14, 2006 at 4:44 AM
My wife and I lived in Middletown OH for a few years and went on Son of Beast when it first opened. It was one of the roughest riding coasters I have ever been on and the only one that I never went on a second time. Locals use to refer to it as a gigantic waste of wood. It is a miracle nobody was killed. I find it hard to beleive as much shaking as you went through on this ride that nobody could foresee the inherent vice of this thing.
From Erik Yates on December 14, 2006 at 3:01 PM
Kind of takes away the reason to ride it without the loop....its just another version of the beast. Shame they can make it work someway.
From Robert Niles on December 14, 2006 at 3:15 PM
Okay, let's start the informal pool:

Question 1) Does SOB reopen at all?

Question 2) If it does, when does it close for good, due to lack of rider interest in a non-loop woodie with a bad track record (literally!)?

From scott sorensen on December 14, 2006 at 3:58 PM
^ Robert, my opinions to your questions. I think they will try to re-open it during the next season. The success of the ride will depend more on whether the roughness of the ride is corrected by the new trains, more than the removal of the loop. If the new trains can reduce the headbanging experience, then the ride will survive.
From Erik Yates on December 14, 2006 at 6:41 PM
I say it will open when they say it will...but no matter how smooth it is, the whole reason of having the "Son of Beast" was to have something bigger badder and more furious than his father.....The loop made that coaster, and without it, I see a lot of people avoiding it. The first couple of months or so it will be busy just because people want to see if its changed, but by the end of the season...nothing. There will be talks of closing it next season, then the season after that..it will happen.
From Derek Potter on December 14, 2006 at 10:37 PM
I do think that there was a flaw in the design of the track itself. The ride was just too rough in some places. If anyone recalls, wind actually knocked a portion of track down during construction, and Kings Island has yet to collect on a lawsuit they filed with companies involved in the building of this ride. The fact that the trains were poorly designed and heavy only made the forces on the track and the riders worse. As a matter of fact, the trains go right to the heart of the matter. That's why KI is removing the loop...to make way for lighter trains. The lighter trains will put far less pressure on the structure and prevent cracking/breaking.

I remember a walkback tour I took of SOB. It was simply astounding just how much the track and structure swayed back and forth when the train passed through the helixes. Quite honestly it looked like the whole curve would break off every time a train passed. No wonder they have already tracked it twice and sunk cash into the structure every year since open.

I for one am fine with the loop being removed if it means a smoother ride. Was it a fun element..yes, but I don't think it's a make or break element. It was novel having a wooden looping coaster, but really not worth the pain to ride. I also hear that GCI, the best wood coaster company around IMHO, may be tapped to fix design flaws and reprofile some track. That could mean that SOB gets the Millennium Flyer train, the most comfortable coaster train in the world. If that's the case, than there won't be anything to worry about. Ridership will come back and the ride will live on.

On the subject of Kings Island, anyone get a look at the large clearing by Flight of Fear? It's just about the right size for a new coaster....or perhaps an old one...

From scott sorensen on December 14, 2006 at 10:42 PM
^ As far as the clearing by FoF, it has been rumored for months that X-Flight will land there. This is just further evidence in support of that. I suspect they will make an official announcement after the holidays.
From Roy Taylor on December 15, 2006 at 10:00 AM
SOB is only one of kind, is a shame not to fix. CF should invest in it, I may be one of few who would ride today if opened.

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