Ohio official blasts Kings Island over Son of Beast roller coaster
Written by Robert Niles
An Ohio state ride inspector blames Kings Island management for negligent construction and design practices on the park's troubled - and widely panned - Son of Beast roller coaster.
The coaster, the first wooden roller coaster to feature an inversion -which was removed in 2007, closed earlier this year following yet another injury accident involving a rider. The ride also closed for the months in 2006 following a busted timber that led to a wreck which sent two dozen people to local hospitals.
Rick Schmizze of the Ohio Department of Agriculture (which inspects amusement rides in the state) testified in a case brought by one of the injured riders in that 2006 accident. In a videotaped deposition reviewed by a local newspaper, Schmizze detailed a list of failures by the park's managers over the years, including the use of inferior wood and a failure to develop computer models to test load stress on the track and its supports. Those failures led to a structure that swayed too much, loosening bolts even in areas which did not fail in the 2006 accident.
Son of Beast was built by Roller Coaster Company of Ohio, which then-owner Paramount Parks fired before the ride was completed. Kings Island, along with the rest of the Paramount Parks chain, was sold to Cedar Fair two months before the 2006 wreck. Schmizze testified that he urged Cedar Fair to develop a computer model to test the track and make repairs, but that was not done, to his knowledge.
When it was open, Son of Beast ranked among the lowest rated attractions in Theme Park Insider's listings, with riders criticizing the coaster for a "rough ride" and "headsplitting" experience. Kings Island's overall rating on Theme Park Insider jumped up significantly when the ride closed, as the negative ratings against Son of Beast were dropped from the voting.
And yet... Kings Island has not yet confirmed that Son of Beast is closed for good. (Double entendre intended.)
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