Amusement Park Ride Safety

State Database List Ride Safety

BUFFALO, N.Y. – A spokesperson for the NY State Department of Labor tells WGRZ-TV that the investigation continues into an incident over the weekend at an amusement park near Lake George, in which a teenage girl dangled perilously for three minutes from a ride 25 feet in the air, until letting go and falling into the arms of bystanders who gathered to catch her.

The girl was riding the gondola style attraction known as the Sky Ride at Six Flags Great Escape, when she somehow slipped beneath a safety bar.

She suffered minor injuries as a result of the accident.

How Safe Are You?

The odds of being seriously hurt on an amusement park or carnival ride are long indeed.

In fact, according to a study last year by the National Safety Council on behalf of amusement park operators, your chances of sustaining a serious injury are 1- in-16 million.

Yet, the same agency logged more than 1,000 injuries on rides each year between 2003, and 2015.

Changes prompted by 2 on Your Side.

In 2011, New York State began making the results of safety inspections done on rides prior to operation a matter of public record.

This followed a fatality at Darien Lake Theme Park, when Sgt. James Hackemer, an Army veteran who lost both legs in Iraq, was killed when he was thrown from a roller coaster there.

In that case, the ride did not malfunction.

However, Hackemer’s admittance to board it as a double amputee, would have seemed to violate the park’s own safety rules and restrictions on who could ride.

Up until that point, the state labor department - which is responsible for ride safety inspections - had refused to make the records from its inspections available to the public.

After WGRZ-TV brought this to his attention, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered the agency to create a publicly accessible data base on its 
website.

Check Out The Information.

Six years later, we found that the data base still exists, and is for the most part current.

However, while it lists the results of the inspections done this year on more than three dozen rides at Six Flags Great Escape where this weekend’s incident occurred, the ride in question—the “Sky Ride”, is not among those listed.

Still, in an e-mail, State Labor Department Spokesperson Cullen Burnell insisted that it had been inspected and passed.

“A ride cannot legally operate without a full inspection and permit from the Department of Labor. This particular ride was given its yearly inspection on May 18 and underwent an additional inspection on June 22,” (just three days prior to the incident) Cullen wrote.

“The Department re-inspected the ride on Sunday following the accident and determined the ride to be mechanically and functionally sound.  Great Escape has chosen not to re-open the ride at this time out of an abundance of caution and the Department continues to work with them to see if there was anything that could have prevented the accident.”

What’s in a Name?

A visit to the database can leave consumers somewhat confused, and having to do their own sleuthing in some cases.

This is because sometimes the rides are listed by “ride type” rather than by the moniker given to the attraction, by which it is widely marketed, and thus most commonly known to visitors.

For example, under Darien Lake’s listed attractions, one would find the “Mind Eraser” listed by the state only as “Suspended Looping Coaster”.

As well, the “Ride of Steel”, where Sgt. Hakemer was thrown from his seat, is listed as “Hyper Coaster”, which is a designation given to any roller coaster with a height or drop measuring greater than 200 feet.

In addition, inspection results for only 47 of Darien lake’s 53 rides are listed on the state’s website, and in fact we found a listing for a ride called “Mach 4” at Darien Lake, which is listed nowhere as an attraction on the park's web site.

© 2017 WGRZ-TV


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