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Teen killed at Batman coaster at Six Flags Over Georgia

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Published: June 28, 2008 at 4:52 PM

Story from the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

A boy was killed Saturday when he was struck by the popular Batman ride at Six Flags Over Georgia.

Police spokesman Dana Pearce said the victim was not on the ride when he was "struck and killed." Six Flags said in a statement that details of the fatal accident would be released "shortly."

According to Fox 5 TV, a group of boys with a church group visiting the amusement park jumped a fence around an off-limits area. One of them jumped to grab someone's feet as the Batman ride passed over, and he was decapitated.

Update: Six Flags' statement:

A 17-year old park visitor scaled two six-foot fences that secured the Batman roller coaster and was struck and killed by the coaster at approximately 2 p.m. today. We do not know why this person was intent on gaining access to this restricted area, as multiple signs clearly state: Danger Zone/Do Not Enter/Authorized Personnel Only.

Some witnesses have stated that the individual was trying to retrieve something he had lost. Others reported that he was trying to touch the ride. This is merely speculation at this point, and we are working with park visitors and local police to learn more. No guests on the ride were injured. The visitor’s family was at the park with him, and Six Flags representatives are currently with the family. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.

Update 2: This is the second death at the ride involving a victim who was struck and killed while in a restricted area. In 2002, a Six Flags employee was struck and killed.

Update 3: The 17-year-old South Carolinan was sneaking back into the park after leaving for lunch. The first fence he and a friend scaled was the park perimeter fence. The second was the attraction fence.

Update 4: Victim ID'd as Asia LeeShawn Ferguson of Springfield, South Carolina. Ferguson was visiting with a group from Oakey Springs Baptist Church in Springfield.

Readers' Opinions

From Dan Rosenberg on June 28, 2008 at 5:52 PM
Wow, that is pretty horrible. You know, they should secure those dangerous areas better. Almost anyone can get over a six foot fence. I know its common knowlege not to go into a resricted area and the park probably doesnt expect anyone to be that stupid and do that, but they still should have at least an eight foot fence around an area as dangerous as that. Then accidents like this can't happen.
From Robert Niles on June 28, 2008 at 6:36 PM
Ugh. We'd gone so long since a fatal guest stupidity accident that I'd actually begun to have hope that people were wising up. No, no one deserves to die for something even this stupid, but, really, how much more does a park have to do to protect people from their own negligence? Do we really need IR "fences" and no-gap camera monitoring around the perimeter of every moving ride?

Even if an IR perimeter were around the ride, triggered to shut down the ride on contact, all that would do is to prevent the coaster trains from entering the next block zone. Depending upon the distance between the ride and the fence, and the position of the trains on the track, even that might not be enough to save the intruder. What then? Electrify the inside fence?

I feel for the people who were on the ride. Thank goodness none of them was hurt physically, but I fear for how witnessing such a horrific event would affect those riders. This is a horrible, horrible day for the survivors - including the riders, the park personnel and, of course, the family of the victim.

From steve lee on June 28, 2008 at 9:55 PM
You hit the nail on the head, Robert. Two six foot fences should be plenty as far as "this is not somewhere you're supposed to be" goes. An additional two feet would be an annoyance, not a deterrent. I hope the park doesn't catch hell over this, as there really is no safeguard for human idiocracy.
From Daniel Cernuschi on June 29, 2008 at 2:23 AM
It is very sad new whenever you hear that someone has died on or because of a ride, but cases like these really do make me think, why would people do something as stupid as this? As the Sixflags statement says, there are plenty of warning signs as well as the fences (which I agree with Robert, are of a suitable height already). I have been to a number of theme parks in the UK and USA and every ride I have been on says that "no loose objects are to be brought on the ride". Even if you ignore this sign, why put your life at risk to gain an object, or even more stupidly, touch a ride. I may seem a little harsh on this but only because these accidents should never happen and it is not the parks fault. However my heart does go out to the family of the teenager as no-one would want to lose someone in such a tragic way.
From Joshua Counsil on June 29, 2008 at 1:06 PM
Utter stupidity. No, you're right, Robert, nobody deserves to die for something like this. Likewise, the company should not be berated for something they controlled fairly well.

This is the reason that signs like "slippery when wet" exist.

From rafael g on June 29, 2008 at 8:05 PM
this really does not sad me at all. I'm sorry. its like that idiot driving 100+ on the freeway on a motorcycle. does a human life lost make me fell sad, yes. do i feel bad for a individual jumping 2 fences with warnings signs make me feel bad. NO!!!!!!!! even if the fence was 20 feet high, they still would of jump it and gotten killed.
From Jay Posteraro on June 29, 2008 at 9:18 PM
This was something that should NOT have happened.....shear stupidity......
From Brandon Mendoza on June 29, 2008 at 11:47 PM
I have mixed feelings about this. Yes, no one deserves to die in a theme park. But at the same time (as insensitive as this may sound), the kid may have just won a Darwin Award.

Warning signs are in places for a reason. Do not enter. Wrong way. High Voltage. It's like the kids who jump off a cliff into rough waters where lifeguards are putting themselves in danger to rescue them. I have little respect for anyone that puts other people in danger with their actions.

The friends and family are the ones I feel for. And same with anyone who witnessed it on or around the ride. No one should ever experience anything like this. That kid did something extremely selfish and stupid. Whatever he was doing or thinking of doing obviously wasn't worth it.

You'd think the kid would jump into a piranha tank just to get a closer look, or just to grab his hat that he dropped.

His actions have traumatized so many people, it's unfair to them. Even if it was suicide (I've lost family to this) I have little respect, as it's a selfish thing to do.

From Lee Mak on June 30, 2008 at 11:23 AM
what a shame...my condolences to the family. Note to all you kiddies...its not worth the braggin rights to say that I "did that" or I "did this". It can end tragically. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire church group too. That totally sucks. If you are not safe at a church outing...where are you safe?
From Andy Guinigundo on June 30, 2008 at 1:21 PM
It's a shame that this story gets lumped in with the girl with the severed feet at Six Flags KY Kingdom from last year. Our local news here in Cincinnati, pitched them as similar stories. I think not. The girl from last year was riding Superman in the usual fashion when the "accident" occurred. I quote "accident" because there is question as to whether or not there were problems with maintenance etc (that's all hung up in court).

This case with the Batman "accident" (I know again in quotes...), the guest was doing something he wasn't supposed to. It's unreasonable to hold Six Flags liable if indeed there was sinage all over the place, and oh two six-foot fences. Geez, I guess they've got to go to the razor wire and electrified fencing now?

How much protection from ourselves is necessary?

From Chloe ! on June 30, 2008 at 9:00 PM
So many of these dumb accidents happen. People should just pay attention to the "Danger, Keep Out!" signs!
From Themepark Guy on July 1, 2008 at 6:30 PM
Ugh... The problem is that even people that are around these rides EVERY DAY can get hit. It is very difficult to judge speed and distance when the train is that close, and even more difficult to understand that the trains swing and dip when you least expect it. I personally witnessed a professional photographer get hit by a mine train, because he was standing too close. He watched 5-6 cycles then leaned in to get 'the shot' at the wrong time. The train hit him in the face. The full-time ride supervisor standing next to him was knocked to ground. Both lived, thank goodness.
From Eli Katzman on July 2, 2008 at 6:21 AM
I'm sorry for the family and church group, but I think that they probably think it was an accident, while everybody else was saying different. But before that, I think that the teen was trying to touch it to tell his friends and brag. I would NEVER do something that stupid, because of the sadness it would bring to my family and others (also the pain of me and others during the incedent).

If he WAS trying to get his hat (or something), then he would've audviously turned to look where the ride was before reaching to get his loose article (if that was the case).

I highly doubt it, but I really don't want SFOG to close the ride. It doesn't have anything to do with me now, but next year I'm visiting my cousins in Atlanta, and I STILL haven't ridden a batman the ride coaster.

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