An amusement park in Ohio saw one of their rides malfunction when a cable snapped free and began to swing wildly around the ride. The Skyhawk ride at Cedar Point amusement park has two giant arms that swing passengers up and down, at speeds near 60 miles per hour. The 100 foot cable broke free from one of the arms and spectators watched it come swinging toward them. It happened so quickly that there was no way to avoid the cable, and only luck prevented serious injuries. There were only two injuries reported from the accident, and the operators turned off the power right away preventing more damage. This accident underscores the risk of amusement park rides to bystanders as well as riders when something goes wrong.
The Need for Strict Maintenance and Inspection Practices
Because the ride had been inspected a few months before, there was no reason to suspect that the cables were somehow faulty or in need of repair. Reports conflicted about whether the cable came loose, or simply broke. This type of accident illustrates the need for stringent safety protocols for any kind of amusement ride. Of course, there is no way for an amusement park to keep its high-speed rides 100% safe for riders or spectators, but there is a duty of care owed to the public.
In an amusement park, the operator must follow inspection and maintenance practices that are standard in the industry. Also, those practices have to be sufficient to detect wear and tear, aging parts and unsafe conditions that could result in injury.
Amusement Park Operators Owe Customers a Reasonably Safe Experience
Although an amusement park may provide warning signs, there is still a duty to offer riders a reasonably safe ride, and if the owner fails to meet that standard they could be held liable. This duty also extends to anyone who is in proximity to the ride, such as spectators watching family members or friends. The accident in Ohio was equally dangerous for riders and bystanders, as the ride equipment began to fall apart.
Even if amusement park customers are aware of the potential dangers of taking or observing a ride, this does not relieve the owner of their duty to maintain safe conditions, proper employee training and sound maintenance practices. Anyone who is injured in an amusement park may have a claim for compensation from the park owner or operator. Types of damages can include:
These types of damages can be recovered by naming the park operator or ride manufacturer in a personal injury lawsuit, and holding them accountable for their actions. As this near catastrophe in Ohio shows, bystanders and spectators can also be at risk of injury, without ever climbing into the seat of a high-speed thrill ride. The owner’s duty of care extends to any park attendees that are in proximity to a ride in the park.