Amusement and theme park accidents are not uncommon, but there are a few that have stood out over the years as particularly tragic, which are listed below:
London’s Battersea Park was the site of the deadliest roller coaster disaster in history. The park was crowded on May 13, 1972, so the Big Dipper was crammed with children and teenagers when the accident took place. The coaster’s train was pulled up the initial hill as it had done countless times before, but this time, just as the cars reached the top of the hill, the hauling cable snapped. The train rolled backwards down the tracks and its emergency braking system failed. The cars picked up speed and went whipping around a curve where they derailed, piling on top of one another.
Ultimately, five children died and 13 others were injured. The ensuing investigation concluded that almost everything was wrong with the coaster. There were a total of 66 defects on the ride including missing brakes, a poorly maintained haul rope, rotted wood, a misaligned track, 50 year-old coaster parts and drunken or drugged ride operators. Both the ride’s engineer and manager were brought up on criminal charges but were ultimately acquitted.
Kings Island amusement park opened in Ohio in 1972 and there were no major incidents or fatalities until a series of strange events on Sunday, June 9, 1991.
Park guest Timothy Benning and his friend, William Haithcoat, walked by a fountain and as he reached toward the water in a fountain, intending to splash his friend. But as soon as he touched the water, Benning was jolted with a powerful electrical current, knocking him unconscious into the shallow water. An exposed wire was just under the surface. Haithcoat jumped into the water to assist his friend and was electrocuted as well. Park employee Darrell Robertson tried to help, but was also electrocuted. The two good Samaritans died shortly after, while Benning survived with serious electrocution injuries. A subsequent investigation revealed that the incident could have been prevented if a simple circuit breaker had been installed on the electrical pumps under the pond.
In a bizarre and strange twist, about an hour later at the same theme park, Candy Taylor chose to ride the Flight Commander, a harmless ride that lifts riders off the ground in capsules that spin around. People are not sure how or why she slipped from her harness and safety belt and out of the pod, but Taylor fell from the ride to the ground 70 feet below and died soon thereafter.
These two, unrelated accidents and resulting deaths at the same theme park, on the same day, left authorities baffled and the local press has since deemed June 9, 1991 as “Black Sunday.”
If you or a loved one have been affected by an accident or death, contact an experienced personal injury attorney at Hurst Limontes, LLC. We have decades of combined experience fighting for our clients in any number of personal injury claims. Call 317-636-0808 or email us for a FREE and confidential consultation.