An amusement park in Montana closed one of its rides after a girl was seriously injured in a fall. The ride is a called the Power Tramp and uses elastic bungee cords to propel the rider up and down. The bungee cords allow the riders to bounce higher off the ground. The day of the accident a girl broke her pelvic bone when she fell to the ground from mid-air. Witnesses said the bungee cord appeared to snap away from the top of the ride, allowing the girl to fall.
Employees Go to the Aid of the Injured Girl, Ignoring Other Riders
While the employees were focused on the injured girl, the other riders were left stuck in their harnesses. Helpless to remove themselves from the ride, they had no idea if they were in danger. One father cut his daughter free from her harness with a pocketknife. It seems that park attendees should not have to rescue other riders when there is an accident.
Failure to attend to the other riders may be understandable when someone is injured, but preventing further injuries is also a priority in this type of accident. This kind of incident underscores the importance of proper training for employees in the event of an accident. Typically, a ride will be shut down from its main power source, but this does little for riders who may be suspended above the ground or locked into a ride device. There are many stories of riders stranded on roller coasters or other rides when there is an equipment failure.
Threat of Liability For Accident Leaves Open Questions on Safety
While the park’s insurance company is handling the incident, this has limited the information available to park attendees on what actually happened. Although the lack of communication is due to potential liability suits, it does little to assure future riders that the park has adequate safety standards in place.
This is typical in amusement park accidents, where the park is unable to comment on what happened, or even address overall safety while the accident is in the hands of insurers. This type of liability claim can drag out for years, leaving park attendees in the dark on exactly what happened. Naturally, the insurance company’s priority is to limit payment of damage claims, and for that reason public relations suffers. For anyone considering a visit to the park, there remain open questions of safety and employee training.
If it were found that the accident was caused by poor maintenance or employee error, the general public deserves to have the information sooner rather than later. However, if the insurers enforce a code of silence, park attendees may be taking on an unknown risk when the visit the park until any legal claims are resolved.