On Saturday, a dozen riders on the X-Coaster at Springs & Crystal Falls amusement park were stuck hanging upside down and 150 feet off the ground after a power outage shut down the ride. It took 30 minutes for the Hot Springs city fire department in Arkansas to get the riders down using a ladder and a truck. An applause sounded when the riders were all brought to the ground, red faced. One rider even vomited after the ordeal. At least one other said they would never ride that coaster again. So far, the cause of the power outage has not been determined, but Entergy Corp is investigating.

Lucky for these riders, their ordeal ended well. This is not the case for some riders who have suffered serious injuries and even death on amusement park rides in the past. Usually, an accident is due to the fault of a rider, and children are most at risk. The top risk factors for children include: lack of secure restraint, mismatched size of riders, kids riding alone, height limits, intensity of the ride, riding inexperience, horseplay, equipment failure, and operational issues. Of all age groups, children between the ages of 9 and 13 are most at risk to suffer injury on a ride. Newborns and senior citizens are surprisingly the lowest risk, possibly because fewer people of this age are actually riding, and if they do, they probably aren’t riding intense rides, such as coasters, that are more likely to cause serious injury.

In the end, it is a mixture of obeying park rules and sheer luck that makes for a safe and pleasant ride experience at an amusement park. Accidents are bound to happen when machinery and the public mix. However, nobody really thinks about this until they’re hanging upside down on a roller coaster.


For related articles visit

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/06/10/coaster.scare.ap/index.html, http://www.rideaccidents.com/ and http://www.saferparks.org/are_rides_safe/.

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