Man is seriously injured on amusement park ride.
Matthew Christensen, a paraplegic man who was injured on a rollercoaster, has filed a lawsuit against Lagoon Amusement Park in Farmington, Utah, claiming his “paralyzed leg wasn’t properly secured while he was on the ride and his foot was shredded.” The lawsuit further alleges a “ligament in his big toe was irreparably shredded,” and that he “suffered fractures to his lower leg, toe, and two other foot bones.”
“The ride in question has a lap restraint similar to others used throughout the amusement industry,” Adam Leishman, spokesperson for the theme park, said, suggesting the setup is fairly common. He added the incident is under investigation.
Christensen is paralyzed from the waist down and uses a wheelchair. He visited Lagoon Amusement Park in October 2020. His son and friend helped transfer him to the rollercoaster car. According to the lawsuit, “Christensen had the lap restraint secured correctly, but his right leg was not secured properly by the leg restraint, which caused the man’s paralyzed leg to dangle below, and he was injured when it got caught in the platform.”
The news of the rollercoaster lawsuit comes shortly after a lawsuit was filed in Kitsap County Superior Court in Washington, regarding an incident in which children were injured on a Tilt-A-Whirl ride in 2018. The lawsuit, filed by the families, names the owner of the Tilt-A-Whirl ride, Davis Amusement Cascadia Inc., and the manufacturer of the equipment, J&S Rides Inc. dba Larson International.
That Tilt-A-Whirl suit states, “At about 1 p.m. on Aug. 28, 2018, a Tilt-A-Whirl car derailed, and six children were injured. One car detached and slammed into a railing. It flipped over, landed on its back, and collided with other cars.” The filing continues, “One child hit his head twice and was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome. Another hit her pelvis and back, and the third child hit her head.”
In 2017, an Ohio State Fair ride with a rusted steel arm also gave out and flung a high school student his death. As a result of that incident, the state is pursuing more oversight of amusement rides, including mandatory checks for corrosion and damage to metal from prolonged use. Inspectors are being more vigilant about flagging rides for repair if anything concerning is found. Ohio, and many other states, gives ride inspectors immunity from negligence lawsuits.
The problem with fair and theme park rides continues, however, and more states, like Utah and Washington, may have to consider adapting policies similar to those in Ohio. Unfortunately, it typically takes a tragedy for new regulations to be put into place, and there is, of course, significant pushback from ride and park owners who’ve insisted inspectors can be too harsh.
The head of Ohio’s amusement ride safety office, David Miran, said of the state’s new measure, “The law emphasizes checking a ride’s structural components and that inspectors are told to err on the side of caution. It’s out of the ride owners’ hands in that scenario, and it’s up to the manufacturer who has the deep knowledge of what that ride is and what the ride needs. Having that other set of eyeballs is huge. Because ride owners now are required to make visual inspections before going out on the road, many are making needed modifications before inspectors arrive.”