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

Man collapses on Kings Island's Firehawk roller coaster

Written by
Published: August 9, 2009 at 5:10 AM

A visitor to Kings Island died yesterday, after riding the Cincinnati-area park's Firehawk roller coaster.

According to a park statement, the man was having trouble breathing when he train returned to the station at the amusement park yesterday afternoon. Park employees responded and treated him at the scene, before he was taken to Bethesda North Hospital.

The man died at the hospital last night. Firehawk is closed this morning, pending a state re-inspection of the ride.

Pre-existing health conditions are the leading cause of trouble on amusement park rides, which is why parks advise against riding if you have health problems.

But millions of Americans have health conditions they don't know about, due to a variety of reasons, including lack of or inadequate health insurance. For a list of tips to help keep you and your family safe at theme parks, please read our Theme Park Safety Tips page.

Readers' Opinions

From Andy Guinigundo on August 9, 2009 at 5:30 AM
It sounds to me as if the man might have had a pulmonary embolism. It's difficult to speculate only going on what being reported on the local news.

It sounds as if this may be the second accident at KI that could be attributed to a pre-existing. Word is, that the state has check out Son of Beast and have not noted any issues. If they examine the Firehawk, I expect the same.

It's also so sad these stories - people come out to the parks to have fun and thrills and end up with heartache and tragedy.

From Lynda Beam on August 9, 2009 at 7:07 AM
Very sad, but at least he died doing something he loved. If it's any number of problems, it could have happened anytime anyway.
From 98.70.126.169 on August 9, 2009 at 8:00 AM
This is why after I turned 40 I quit talking people into getting on roller coasters. I love them but I also know they scare the living he** out of others and after a certain age we don't recover from some things! I will be thinking about this persons family and friends, remember folks, read the signs.
From Brandon S on August 9, 2009 at 9:29 AM
This is very sad news, and my prayers go out to the family. However, the ride should not be investigated by the state. The man most likely had a pre existing health issue. Firehawk is a smooth flying coaster, and I highly doubt the ride caused this man's tragic death.
From Eli Katzman on August 9, 2009 at 10:02 AM
Wow. I'm very sorry to his family, and it would have been devastating in line to watch him come back to the station. Does anyone know how old he was?
From Jack Curley on August 9, 2009 at 10:07 AM
I don't think the state can opt out of inspecting a coaster fatality just because it "sounds like a pre-existing condition." Anyway, I wouldn't be shocked to find out that there was something wrong with Firehawk. I live 20 minutes from KI, have a season pass, and yet I've only ridden Firehawk twice. I'm a coaster junkie, but I just don't enjoy that one.
From Derek Potter on August 9, 2009 at 11:29 AM
It's always a bummer to hear something like this happened. It was a hot one in Ohio yesterday too, perhaps that contributed to it as well. Firehawk's forces are a little different than those on a sit down roller coaster. I've ridden it several times, and personally never had any complaints about it's ride or smoothness. That being said, because it works the body a little differently, I can see where someone with a preexisting condition may be affected by the trip. As Robert said, people can also have health issues and not know about them, only to have something happen after a physical activity...sometimes it doesn't even take that for something to happen. Someone could ride the coaster 99 times and be fine, and then the hundredth sets off an episode. This is always a somber reminder for everyone to make sure they are getting that check up and staying on top of their health.

I'm pretty sure that Cedar Fair will inspect the ride top to bottom themselves if the state doesn't do so before opening it again. I do believe that Son of Beast cleared it's inspection recently, although who knows if it will open again this year or not.

Most importantly though, my prayers go out to the family. Nobody goes to the park expecting something like this to happen. Parks are almost always a safe place, an escape from your troubles and worries, and it's always a tragedy when someone is lost.

From Eli Katzman on August 9, 2009 at 3:14 PM
Jack, there is the exact same coaster at my home park, SFA, called Batwing. I have ridden it at least 20 times, and most have been in one row, and one seat at that. you need to ride in the front! It totally changes the experiance! It's almost as good as Superman: RoS at my park!
From Jasmine Grant on August 9, 2009 at 7:17 PM
It is always sad to read stories like this one. I can't even think of how his family must feel. However, I don't think that there is anything wrong with the coaster but there is no harm in re-inspecting it. But I do hope that this will serve as an eye-opener for those out there with a health condition that they know of that can put them in a life threating situation when mixed with the thrilling turns, loops and drops of a roller coaster. I'm not saying give up roller coasters all together. You should just keep track of how close together your riding times are and if you feel yourself falling short of breath either stop for the day or opt out of the next couple of coaster rides. And everyone needs to stay hydrated when planning a day out at a theme park. I hope this is the last story of this nature I have to read about for a very long time.
From 76.235.37.204 on August 9, 2009 at 8:58 PM
Firehawk is the one ride at Kings Island I won't ride a second time! I've never felt so helpless leaning face down leaning on the harness only. I rode Diamondback today twice and it's a piece of cake in comparison (fear wise).

God bless his family!

From Joshua Counsil on August 10, 2009 at 7:20 AM
Am I incorrect in assuming this is the worst summer we've had for theme park deaths in years?
From 99.153.56.65 on August 10, 2009 at 1:33 PM
I want to report on this incident because I happened to be an eyewitness... because of the way the ride queues, only 2 loads of people are near the car when it is in the station. I was one of the few people there. I was shocked at how KI handled this. The man was not having trouble breathing.... he was NOT breathing. The KI staff on the platform, did nothing to help him immediately other than call the medical staff which took 5-10 minutes to get there. They would not let other guests help get him out of the seat or perform CPR. A bigger question is why is there not a trained staffer at every platform to provide some immediate care? Anyone can take a 4 hr training class. Anyone can learn to operate a porable Defibrillator. I don't know if it would have saved his life, but when KI makes several million in tickets sales on a summer weekend day having the emergency training and equipment it is better than being unprepared and doing nothing and then lying about the report to the media.
From 216.68.236.9 on August 10, 2009 at 3:09 PM
It is very sad to hear about this man. We all are praying
for his family. I don't think this could have
been pre-exsisting though. I mean the man was only 38 for
crying out loud. Plus, I know after my husband and I
got off the ride, that my husband was complaining about his
chest hurting. So I think the state should be checking it out. I mean it could be the smoothest ride ever and still cause and injury, and just the way the harness goes when your upside down is enough to give anybody chest pains. Please don't take me wrong, I love firehawk just as the much person, but it would never hurt to check to make sure that is wasn't the ride that caused his death.
From Mary Ann Nowak on August 10, 2009 at 6:42 PM
My thoughts and prayers are with the family, as you never expect something like this to happen when planning a day of fun. It was extremely hot in the Midwest yesterday, here in the Chicago area we had over 96, with high heat indexes. Someone died at Lollapalooza from a heart attack, so everyone needs to be aware of how the weather can affect you -- and stay hydrated, even if you don't feel thirsty.

I recently turned 52, and for the most part, can still ride anything with a few exceptions (Son of Beast is one of them!) But should anything happen to me while at a park -- I do agree with a few of the other posts that at least it would be while doing something I love.

From Charles Reichley on August 11, 2009 at 8:49 PM
The re-opened the FireHawk, which is good news for us since we are going to be at KI sunday, and even though we only ride firehawk once each time we are there, it should help take some riders from other rides we like to ride.

Like SonOfBeast, which unfortunately KI has decided is too unpopular to re-open even though it was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Although why they are making a decision based on people who hated the ride is beyond me. Every time I was there people were waiting in line to ride, so it's not like everybody was staying away -- and some of us really liked the ride.

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

Previous article: Disney to charge for formerly free sessions at Epcot Food & Wine Festival



Enter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Harry Potter

Insider's Pick: There's only one place in America to where you can enter the world of Harry Potter: the Universal Orlando Resort. With Universal Orlando 2014: The Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate Theme Park Adventure, you'll learn everything you need to know to save money and time while enjoying Harry Potter and all the other world-class attractions at Universal Orlando.

Get it! In paperback | For Kindle | For iBooks