Ohio Releases Top Thrill Dragster Investigation Report

February 18, 2022, 9:08 PM · An Ohio state agency investigating last year's injury incident on Cedar Point's Top Thrill Dragster has not found that the park violated any state rules and therefore will take no action against Cedar Point.

Nevertheless, Top Thrill Dragster will remain closed for the 2022 season, a park spokesperson confirmed. Top Thrill Dragster is Cedar Point's tallest and fastest roller coaster - a 2,800-foot Intamin accelerator with a 120 mph launch up a 420-foot Top Hat.

The agency's report states that the Ohio Department of Agriculture [ODA] "conducted a post-accident inspection of the ride, interviewed key Cedar Point staff, and reviewed thousands of pages of maintenance records, witness reports, and laboratory reporting. Based on this review, ODA could not establish the levels of proof necessary to bring forward a violation against Cedar Point.

"After examining the documentation provided and conducting interviews of Cedar Point staff, ODA found no evidence that Cedar Point had knowledge of or reason to believe that the Top Thrill Dragster was in an unsafe condition that could cause a hazard to riders, employees, or the public on August 15, 2021."

The 13-page report, with more than 600 additional pages of photos and attachments, notes that "the purpose of ODA's investigation was not to determine the cause of the accident," but the investigation focuses on a failure by a fastener that led to a plate from Top Thrill Dragster's green train flying off and striking a guest in the ride's queue.

"The metallurgical laboratory report provided by American Testing Services, LTD., stated that their examination 'indicates that one of the capscrew fasteners backed out of the bogie frame, resulting in failure by instantaneous overload fracture,'" the report said. "The capscrew fasteners described in this report refer to the bolts which secure the proximity flag plate to the body of the ride ('bogie frame'). Cedar Point staff indicate that the proximity flag plate was secure prior to operation on August 15, 2021. The report states that the bolt which backed out of the ride failed at 'roughly ½ inch below the formed head' and failed by 'instantaneous overload fracture.'"

A 44-year-old woman from Michigan was seriously injured in the incident. Her condition has not been released, beyond the report noting that she was admitted to a trauma intensive care unit.

Previously: Cedar Point Closes Top Thrill Dragster for the Season

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Replies (8)

February 19, 2022 at 12:05 AM

When people get on CF's case for so many of their new big new steel coasters being B&Ms this is exactly why. This parks Intamins have been a dumpster fire for two decades now.
Wicked Twister - Structure wasn't designed to handle the stress of operating and ultimately had to add supports (as well as all the other impulses).
TTD - Been an unreliable POS since day one and seems like its constantly trying to kill people.
Maverick - Major design flaw leading to part of the ride having to be redesigned and rebuilt. And another one that has been constantly breaking down for its entire existence.
Shoot the Rapids - I think that situation speaks for iteslf.

Also KBF has had to deal with Xcelerator and Perilous Plunge and KD had Volcano. Can you really blame CF for going on an Intamin haitus?

February 19, 2022 at 5:47 AM

@the_man you won't get an argument from me. Not to mention Intimidator at KD but that's for another topic. Of course nothing is perfect, but the vast differences between the two companies is very unsettling.

February 19, 2022 at 11:29 AM

TTD has indeed been unreliable but as far as I can see Kingda Ka has a comparatively good track record. There was an incident with a bolt coming loose in 2005 although I'm not aware of any injuries and the ride reopened within a couple of months.

I admit to being an Intamin fan despite the problems with Maverick & I-305. The trouble with I-305 having to be redesigned because it was too intense is a classic example of Intamin pushing the envelope but it's to their credit that they were able to resolve the problem. That coaster is one of my favorites, as is Storm Runner and a long list of others.

B&M is reliable but repetitive. How many times have I ridden a coaster with a hammerhead turn? That's not to say that they don't have some incredible coasters - e.g., Leviathan & Fury - to their credit.

A Canadian friend asked me why amusement rides in Ohio are under the jurisdiction of the Dept. of
Agriculture and I don't know the answer to that question. He's planning to visit Cedar Point for the 1st time this summer and I suggested that he ride TTD just for the heck of it. He really doesn't want to ride it and now he won't have to!

February 19, 2022 at 11:26 AM

As with the other accidents on other rides at Cedar Fair properties, it is most likely they will remove it but won't officially announce it until they figure out what to replace it with. However I also see the closure of it this year for Cedar Fair Executives to see how much it will affect park attendance. If park attendance is not adversely affected it gets removed but if park attendance declines noticaeably, then they will have to bite the bullet and fix it. Therefore if you want to see it back up and running in 2023, DON'T go to Cedar Point this year!

February 19, 2022 at 12:38 PM

I suspect that dismantling something as big as TTD would require many months of planning and then closing off much of the area around the ride for the needed equipment to operate, so it's simply too late to take it down for this season.

So next off-season, Cedar Point either rebuilds it or tears it down. At this point, I would bet a pretend nickel that it gets torn down.

As for the Department of Agriculture question, I wonder if amusement rides got lumped in there because of state and county fairs. You had Ag inspectors at those events already, so why not have them inspect the rides, too?

February 19, 2022 at 1:25 PM

TTD is a novelty ride. As exhilarating as it is/was I never went to CP to ride the dragster. Most times it was closed anyway. My road trip this year misses out CP due to no new rides. In the end I decided to visit some of the parks I’ve never been too.

One of those parks is SFGAdv, so maybe I’ll get to ride Kingda Ka instead.

February 19, 2022 at 7:02 PM

"as far as I can see Kingda Ka has a comparatively good track record"
hahahaha you had me rolling there!

In regards to if the ride is going to be removed or not I think they are going to make a very strong effort to find a fix for the ride and re-open it. It was a totally different scenario with Son of Beast because most people hated that ride and there were major problems with the structure itself. TTD is still extremely popular and arguably the most iconic and marketable coaster at their flagship park, I highly doubt they will take it out. The Smiler had a major accident that was all over the British news for months but when it re-opened it was still as popular as ever. Now granted that was operator error but the fact that the day the ride opened it had its longest line ever I think shows people will definitely still ride.

In regards to why the department of agriculutre is in charge of inspecting the rides, in all seriousness amusement park rides are pretty much unregulated by the government. California and [I think] New Jersey are the only states that have departments that actually regulate the maintenence and operations of amusement rides. Rides are not ubiquitous enough for the government to want to put actual resources towards regulating them and because accidents are so infrequent nobody is really calling for regulation, Ed Markey is the only congressman I can think of that has ever made a stink about this and at this point he is kind of a meme, nobody takes him seriously. The industry (at least all IAAPA members, which is most every park) self regulate using ASTM standards which is overseen by a board of industry safety executives. Obviously they don't want to be regulated so at least from my observation parks are good about being up to standards. The department of agriculture just "inspects" the ride at the start of every season (for most states its like one person who looks at every ride in the whole state) and all they really do is look at it to make sure its not falling apart. Who could forget when Schlitterbahn Kansas had that big accident and the department of agriculture (who is in charge of inspecting the slides) had no idea what hapenned and said "we're not waterpark people."

February 21, 2022 at 9:00 AM

I’ve been going to Cedar Point my whole life, TTD has never been a huge point of interest for me and my family. It was exciting to ride one time but it’s not worth the wait for repeat rides for the most part. As for Intamin, it’s a shame they are so unreliable because I’m a huge fan of their rides, Millenium Force being my all time favorite. Maverick on the other hand I’ve never cared for, it’s just a bit too whippy and always gave me a headache/neck ache. Regarding the B&M rides, yeah they are super reliable, rarely ever down for maintenance and generally offer a smooth ride but most of them are just boring to me. Personally I don’t think TTD being closed is going to affect attendance. I don’t know anyone who really loves that ride. I think it will just create more questions than anything else.

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