Welcome to Theme Park Insider! Join the community or log in
Theme Park Insider
Facebook Twitter YouTube Email Newsletter

Teenage girl injured at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom

Written by
Published: June 21, 2007 at 5:58 PM

Police confirmed that a 13-year-old girl lost her feet after an accident on the Superman Tower of Power free-fall ride at Six Flags' Kentucky Kingdom, in Louisville.

Officials said they got the call around 5 p.m. Thursday. Witnesses said a cable snapped and struck the girl at the ankles.

[Sorry for the editor's typos in an earlier version. Now updated with more detail. Accident also listed on the TPI Accident Watch. - Ed.]

Readers' Opinions

From Lawrence Smith on June 22, 2007 at 4:22 AM
This is tragic news. My thoughts & prayers go out to this young girl & her family.
From Lee Mak on June 22, 2007 at 6:09 AM
This is terrible...I wish the best for her family to stay strong during this difficult time and I hope that the girl makes the best possible recovery from this unfortunate accident. My thoughts and prayers are with them.
From Robert Niles on June 22, 2007 at 9:48 AM
Kings Island has closed Drop Zone, which is the same ride system as the Louisville ride. Look for other parks to do the same as the investigation into what caused the accident (design flaw or maintenance failure?) continues.
From Amberly Jones on June 22, 2007 at 10:07 AM
I was on the same ride yesterday at Six Flags New England and it's chilling to think that I could have been that girl. My prayers are with her.
From Ben James on June 22, 2007 at 12:33 PM
While it is terrible that this happened. I am glad to hear they are going to do complete inspections on similar drop rides.

I think that most parks will just run a few days worth of strenuous test then just re-open. What should happen? they should wait until a determination of the SFKK ride is out. Then look at that flaw to determine if the others may have a similar fate.

Just my 2 cents worth.

From Logan Decker on June 22, 2007 at 12:34 PM
I was there yesterday when it happend but I was at the other end of the park.
I was with one of my friends and all of the suddent we see everyone run up to the front of the park. So I followed and saw about 8 police and about 6 EMS people, alot of the people standing and whatching were volmiting while the injured girl was in total shock. I felt so bad for this girl, becuase if you think about it what are the chances of that happening to you, honestly I go to kentucky kingdom at least 4 times a week and almost every time I have ridden superman, I thank god that it wasnt me on the ride at that time and I feel terrible for the girl that was. so about 15 minutes after it happend, I got interviewd by about four different news crews and I was just not in the mood to comment. I just got back from there today and there was still about 3 different news crews there, and I just kept on walking becuase I just dont want to think about it.
From Robert Niles on June 22, 2007 at 1:11 PM
Here's what seems to me to be the possibilities:

Every piece of mechanical equipment is rated to last a certain amount of use before it has to be maintained, repaired or replaced. Your car needs oil every few thousand miles. The tires need to be rotated, then replaced. Amusement park rides are the same. Every certain number of rides, certain parts need to be lubed, rotated and replaced.

When the investigation finds the initial part that failed, someone can check the maintenance records for that part to see if it was within its scheduled life and had been maintained properly. If not, that becomes a huge problem for SFKK, but a bit of a relief for everyone else running this model of ride. If they have followed recommended maintenance procedures, then their rides should be okay and they can reopen.

If the part was in complaince on maintenance, then life gets more complicated. Is there a design flaw in the ride that put unexpected stress on the part? Was there a manufacturing flaw in this specific part? Was the part improperly installed? Or was their some external factor?

You can rotate your tires on schedule, but if you run over a nail, you still might need to replace it early. One can't yet rule out some similar freak occurance here. Could someone have dropped something, such as a cell phone, which ricocheted into the mechanism, causing the cable to snap? If that then turns out to be the case, one has to consider design changes to protect the ride mechanism from such intrusions. Or changing operations procedures to keep riders from bringing loose objects on the ride. Or both.

The smart thing for parks to do here to show the public how they will move heaven and earth to investigate and ensure the safety of their rides. Closing these models during the investigation is an appropriate first step.

From s a on June 22, 2007 at 1:24 PM
I'm curious as to how this accident was caused. It seems so strange that her feet just got severed like *that*. This story has been so mysterious. I'm wondering if she did anything to cause it herself. Not to put her to blame but it's something to think about. However, I am not trying to convey that I feel it is her fault. Not at all. But it is a possibility. If it was really her fault, the park and the ride itself should not be to blame. Again this IS NOT TO SAY this was the case. We don't know whether it was mechanical failure or horseplay or anything else. In any case, this was an unfortunate accident, and I hope her family is doing okay and that she recovers well.
From Steve Smegner on June 22, 2007 at 1:42 PM
S A,
A steel cable under a lot of tension that suddenly breaks will fly with a huge amount of force. There was a case at Disneyland where a cable holding the ferry to the dock came loose (I think the cleat detached). When the rope flew backward it killed some guy instantly. So maybe she had her feet down while the people on either side had theirs pointing straight out. Who knows at this point. It could have been a lifter cable or maybe a safety cable. This sent a chill down my spine. I am a Six Flags, Disney, amusement park ride junkie. I am extremely sorry this happened to such a young girl. If this causes the industry to really take a look at their rides then a small amount of good may come of it.
From Adrienne McDonald on June 22, 2007 at 1:56 PM
That's horrible! I'm glad I'm too chicken to ride those things. But ya know, KKa had a cable snap on the take off too didn't it that sent metal shards or something from the cable into the air? That's terrible, they should take better care of their rides & inspect them more thoroughly. Don't the ride manufatureres have recommendations on when they should be inspected, like bungee cords after so many jumps?
From steve lee on June 22, 2007 at 2:18 PM
It really is impossible for the rider in this situation to have done something that caused the accident, s a. If there was anything there she could have interfered with, that's an issue the park needs to address.

While I hate to see all these drop towers closed, I have to say that I really hope it turns out to be a flawed part rather than an overall maintenance issue. Parks are getting a little extra grief this year, and the last thing the industry needs is for a large chain to get dinged for faulty maintenance. Between this and X-Coaster a few weeks back, I've had my fill of bad park stories (and that's not considering the ones that don't make the national news like Magnum XL-200's love bump, Raging Wolf Bobs' derailment, and Timber Tower's 3-hour ride).

The industry needs some good news. I just hope they've done what they need to do to deserve it.

From Erik Yates on June 22, 2007 at 2:22 PM
Here in town a man was decapitated by a guide wire cable on a telephone pole. The pole was being worked on and the cable snapped causing it to loose all the tension. His head came off just below the shoulders. These things happen when the cables are not maintained, and it seems like the cables on these rides and rides like it at Carowinds, Kings island, and other parks are exposed to the elments where on rides like Dr. Doom and even the tower at Cypress Gardens are enclosed. Granted, these cables have the potential to snap right through any protection. One thing I want to know, where at on the ride was she? Was she in the air? Did the brakes kick on?
From Logan Decker on June 22, 2007 at 2:59 PM
They just interviewed the park manager and he said that thier matinence crew still does not know why the cable snaped,
I over heard a park employee say that there is a good chance the ride will be removed from the park.

Erick, the car began to climb up the tower and about half way up the tower is when the cable snapped and the car began to fall, once it was close to the bottom of the tower the brakes slowed the car down like it was supposed to.

From Adam Powell on June 22, 2007 at 9:06 PM
Thankfully "drop towers" have a breaking system that isn't powered (it's a magnetic induction system), so as long as the car doesn't become detached it always works, planned drop or not.

It's really sad to hear of things like this happening... I hope they managed to reattach her feet.

From Kelly Perazzolo on June 22, 2007 at 11:48 PM
This is very unfortunate and I wish the girl a full and speedy recovery. How come these rides don't have the cables more concealed? There must be a way to design the ride with the cables on the inside of the main structure.
From Erik Yates on June 23, 2007 at 4:32 AM
I think on some drop towers they are encased....Dr. Doom at IOA is one example....pretty sure of it.
From Robert OGrosky on June 23, 2007 at 9:44 AM
Im no engineer in the least, but I wouldnt think it would be a design flaw. With these rides operating for so many years and having given hundreds of millions of people rides you would think a design defect would show up sooner than this.

Is TOT down or operated with the same type of system as this ride??

From Anthony Murphy on June 23, 2007 at 12:09 PM
TOT is not the same thing! In fact, you are being pulled down faster to pull you out of your seats better. Still, the ride has had some malfuctions, but nothing as serious as this incident.

I was watching the news yesterday and fell asleep. Did they close down all the Six Flags droping rides (like Giant Drop at SFGA. I only heard the promo for it and I wished I could have seen it. Is it true?

From stephanie clemons on June 23, 2007 at 7:00 PM
IT WAS NOT A 16-YEAR OLD IT WAS A 13-YEAR OLD UNFORTUNATLEY.
From Logan Decker on June 23, 2007 at 7:52 PM
yea its a 13 year old girl, and I was watching the news and they said that cedar fair has closed down 5 of thier thrill rides becuase of this incident, and six flags has closed down I think 8 of thier thrill rides.
From steve lee on June 23, 2007 at 8:04 PM
Intamin says they haven't provided replacement cable for this ride since it opened, so I guess SFKK was using some other vendor. I hope the fault lies there...
From Joshua Counsil on June 24, 2007 at 11:36 AM
I'm in my third year of mechanical engineering, and we've had several courses in which the sole purpose is material inspection. This includes tensile tests, compression tests, etc. We've also had several courses regarding safety. These courses delve into something called a Safety Factor. Any machinery exposed to the general public must have a Safety Factor of around 4 or higher, ESPECIALLY parts used in, say, theme park attractions.

Typically, when something like this goes wrong with something in close contact with people, it was the result of human error. It might be possible that Six Flags did not follow guidelines. Like Robert was saying, you have to change your tires. Materials go through so many tests before they're deemed safe, but they still wear, especially when it's something as rigorous as a high speed attraction.

Basically, I don't think the girl or the manufacturer are to blame in the slightest. Maybe not even Six Flags. That's why it's a freak accident - it happens very rarely and has no definitive cause. We'll just be waiting on the results of the test.

Hearts out to the girl and her family. What a nightmare.

From Greg Mills on June 24, 2007 at 3:23 PM
Yet another injury on roller coasters.

Am I gonna avoid the Superman? Not likely.

I won't say I'll send prayers to the girl. Fat lotta good prayers do a girl who is now gonna be crippled for life. But I will say, I feel absolutely horrible for her, and if there's a donation system available to give them some money to cover the medical bills or something, I'd gladly do that. If anyone knows of something for said donations, I'd appreciate a link or address.

I just hope her relatives don't see this as a cash opportunity and sue. It's not the fault of either Six Flags or the engineers. This crap just happens with such complicated pieces of machinery; no such thing as 100% reliability. A civil lawsuit judge probably wouldn't see it that way.

From erin smith on June 25, 2007 at 12:07 PM
I beilieve that the family should be entitled to a large sum of money by suing. This money should be used in helping pay medical bills, and other expences such as therapy for the girl, because it is gonna take a long time for her to recover from such a traumatic injury to her body. i know a little more than enough will be awarded to her and her family, but it can help her to a quicker more significant recovery. Money cant make everything better but it can make it easier for all of them!!

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Previous article: The longest wait in theme park history



Planning a trip to Orlando?

Walt Disney World

Insider's Pick: Get all the best advice from ThemeParkInsider.com in one convenient book! Theme Park Insider Orlando 2014 offers you the insight, background, and how-to skills that will help you enjoy Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando like, well, a theme park insider. Save yourself time and money by learning how to visit the Orlando-area theme parks the insiders' way.

Get it! In paperback | For Kindle | For iBooks