Theme parks are a wonderful destination for families and adrenaline junkies alike; with stomach-dropping roller coasters and kid-oriented rides, there is something for everyone. However, these attractions can also be hotbeds for injury.
According to a survey by the National Safety Council, 1,356 people reported injuries at amusement parks in 2013. Some of these accidents are as innocuous as twisted ankles, but others can be much more serious. So what kinds of theme park accidents have occurred in the Lone Star State? Take a look at some of the more serious incidents that have happened in Texas.
Roaring Rapids Drowning
On March 21, 1999, a woman was enjoying a ride on the Roaring Rapids at Six Flags Over Texas when things went seriously wrong. The boat she was riding in deflated suddenly and flipped over into 3 feet of water. Because of the heavy weight of the inflatable, the woman was unable to free herself and drowned.
Texas Giant Accident
On July 19, 2013, 52 year old Rosa Esparza was riding a roller coaster at Six Flags over Texas in Arlington when she was flung from the car. She attempted to hang on, but fell 75 feet and hit a support beam. The family filed a suit, claiming the inspection protocol that could have prevented her death was ignored. In 2014, the family was awarded a settlement, and the Texas Giant was closed for 2 months after the incident.
This roller coaster located at Six Flags Fiesta Texas has been the site of two separate incidents.
In the first, a 14 year old girl was paralyzed after she fell off of the platform and in between 2 cars, landing on a concrete slab 10 feet below. In a lawsuit filed by the family, papers allege that she fainted due to the intense heat and that safety netting installed below the cars could have saved her. Hailey Kuhn has been a paraplegic since the incident, which occurred in 2007.
In a separate incident, two Poltergeist riders where trapped on the ride for over 2 hours in 2010.
Texas Tornado Yo-Yo
10 people were injured on March 12, 2006, when the swing-based ride stopped abruptly, sending passengers colliding into one another. Five riders received medical attention at the hospital for back pain, while the rest were treated on-site. The manufacturer of the attraction, Chance Rides, has since recalled their yo-yo rides at Six Flags and other parks around the country to fix defects that led to the incident.
In 2004, 11 year old Chelsea McKay was going down a waterslide at a popular San Antonio waterpark. She landed hard on her feet and immediately complained of pain. The park officials gave her an ice pack, and she was driven to her father’s chiropractic office. An X-ray confirmed the girl had broken both ankles, and she was in a wheelchair for 7 weeks.
Unfortunately, an investigation by the San Antonio Express-News found that many incidents, like Hailey Kuhn’s and Chelsea McKay’s, go unreported by park officials, even though Texas law requires them to do so.
According to the Texas Department of Insurance, 120 theme park attendees broke bones and four riders required amputations between 2000 and 2008. The question remains if these numbers are under-reported by theme park officials.
If you have been injured in a Texas theme park accident, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses or emotional damages. Contact the personal injury law attorney Brian White for a free consultation.