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Roller Coaster Deaths and Dismemberments

Published by Brian Dessauer in Offbeat
July 1st, 2008

Take a quick look at Americas favorite ride … to the death.

The first ride many flock to in most amusement parks is the roller coaster. With years of research and safety precautions these rides can still be very dangerous and even deadly. Injuries, deaths and dismemberments abound in the sordid past of Americas favorite ride. Many love this ride because for its speed, turns, hills, barrel rolls, loops, corkscrews and drops. Roller coaster enthusiasts demand bigger, longer and faster trips with every new roller coaster built, yet injuries and deaths abound in the amusement rides past.

Did you know?

  • Roller Coasters history began in the 17th century with Russian ice slides.
  • The “Aerial Walk” was the first coaster that had locking wheels on steel tracks.
  • Frascati Gardens in Paris, France built the first looping roller coaster.
  • In 1878 the first patent was awarded to Richard Knudson for a coaster like invention, an “Inclined Railway” system.
  • In the 20’s estimates claim between 1,500 and 2,000 coasters existed during this time period, a massive figure even by today’s standards.
  • The 60’s were denominated by wooden coaters.
  • The late 70’s was the start of the modern loping roller coaster.
  • In the 80’s stand up and suspended steel track rides began.
  • The era of the 90’s honed steel track technology.

Accidents, Injuries and Deaths

  1. Topping the list is the worst accident recorded in roller coaster history to date. It happened on the Mind Bender in Canada. The coaster was a triple lopper indoor ride. On the last train car a wheel sheared off at high speeds and smashed into a concrete pillar killing every passenger.
  2. June 28th, 2008 a teenager was decapitated by a roller coaster after hopping a pair of fences entering a restricted area at Six Flags Over Georgia.
  3. In Santa Clara, California a 13-year-old boy was killed when he was struck from behind by another car while attempting to board the ride at Willard’s Whizzer at Marriott’s Great America.
  4. At Six Flags an employee of 20 years fell to his death form the Rolling Thunder Roller Coaster. The New Jersey Labor Dept. concluded after an investigation the man may not used the safety bar securing himself.
  5. A 20-year-old park employee fell from the Rolling Thunder roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure theme park in Jackson Township, New Jersey. The accident occurred during a routine test run of the trains. An investigation by the New Jersey Labor Department concluded that the man might not have secured himself with the safety bar. A park representative later confirmed this conclusion.
  6. In Doswell, Virginia a 13-year-old boy was killed while riding a roller coaster when an object struck his head.
  7. In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina a 13-year-old girl fell to her death while riding a roller coaster. She impacted a guardrail being thrown 30 feet from her car.
  8. I have some personal knowledge of this next roller coaster death. I was at the park when it happened. It was a Six Flags in Missouri. I was in line for the Rail Blazer, a stand up first of its kind ride. The woman who fell was a large woman; the restraints would not properly fit on her. She was whipped from the train, she just “flipped out’ the woman in the car next to her said. Needless to say, I did not go on the ride.
  9. As a man stood up on the Astroland Amusement Parks Cyclone roller coaster striking his head on a cross beam killing him.
  10. A 33-year-old man sustained a fatal head injury while leaving his safety restraint, standing up and leaning outside his car.

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18 Comments
  1. anyonymous
    Posted July 5, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    its so scary about roller coaster deaths. i mean, it could of happened to us. wonder how it feels, dropping from a roller coaster, knowing this time, its not a dream. :[

  2. Brian Dessauer
    Posted July 8, 2008 at 6:49 am

    I bet the fall, feels that same as the ride…without the sudden stop of course…

  3. rebecca
    Posted October 10, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    i love roller coasters i just came back from florida and i typed in deaths on roller coasters in america and a few roller coasters iv been on some on e had died on i was rearly shocked on how they died

  4. andy
    Posted December 15, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    the mindbender tragedy in edmonton did not kill everyone on board…you should get your facts straight!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Edmonton_Mall
    http://www.ultimaterollercoaster.com/forums/cgi/forum1.cgi?read=182242
    http://capital2.capital.edu/admin-staff/dalthoff/almanac.txt

  5. Richard
    Posted January 14, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    Ok i checked the website and it said the police confirmed that only three people died and the other 19 were injured but not killed. Thanks for clearing that up because if all of them would have died, that would have been even worst. Hopefully their families are doing okay.

  6. urbanmum
    Posted February 8, 2009 at 11:35 am

    The deaths are tragic, however; am I the only one to notice that not only are numbers 4 & 5 the same incident but of the remaining nine, four were influenced by the actions of the individual victims?

  7. Tiff
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    I don’t understand why people will read this and become afriad. Most roller coaster deaths happen because of people’s own stupidity. They either don’t follow the guidlines of the restraints, go into a restricted area, or do something that’s just plain stupid. No matter what the cause it’s still sad but I can only show sympathy for so long, people need to quit being stupid.

  8. Eric
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    We should put all fat people on roller coasters!

  9. edd
    Posted July 29, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Is this site run by a 4th grader? Some of the worst grammar and spelling I have ever seen. Amateur.

  10. Zach
    Posted August 6, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    yeah i mean most of this stuff does happen out of stupidity and the “mind bender” roller coaster tragedy was a fluke!

  11. dan
    Posted August 11, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Over the years there have been serious situations involving roller coasters. Being quite aware of the industry, people used the “ride for suicides[better than bridges], impressing or showing off [standing up, switching cars], not listening or following instructions [throwing objects--signs], alcohol induced stupidity acts and so forth. Also young employees become “bored” with a routine position and the ride is generally to them “over and over”.
    To the best of my knowledge, since records have been kept from 1956 in the US [excluding health conditons], if a patron is in their car [sled] properly, they will come back home. Out of billions of riders, I suspect one could find a tragedy or two since the record keeping. DRH

  12. Mike
    Posted August 12, 2009 at 5:26 am

    I have to give input here I was at Disneyland the day the guy was killed on Big Thunder Mountain. He was following the rules and securely in his seat when the locomotive car reared up and crushed him. I will NEVER forget that day. It proves that not ALL roller coaster deaths are caused by stupidity. I also wonder how many deaths have not reached public awareness, due to most amusement park’s anti negative media exposure policy.

  13. dan heary
    Posted August 12, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    I remember that incident well, and it was tragic. There are two braking sensors [ one is the back up ], and then the third being manual, [ too late ]. I do not support the issue, but present the premise that if all is followed properly the fatality rate is a very, very low %…extremely low. Once again the PRESS you voiced is correct, the reason being of future ticket sales etc…i.e. “The Raging River” at six flags N.E.. A couple and their two children were seated properly according to weight to balance the large inner tube. Once the tube departed they undid their belts and switched seats [mom and dad were heavy ]. So now the tube is intentionally unbalanced and they start rocking back and forth and stuck the water pipe 20 inches deep. They capsize and tried to sue the park. They did not know that all rides have cameras, and lost their scam. BUT….18 “Raging “River” rides were closed for over two weeks nation wide to check for faults that did not exist. These people claimed they were under water for 30 seconds [really 14 ] before people righted the tube. So now all the other rides are backed up [ huge lines ] because a “power” ride is down. And what happens at many parks in minor accidents is that major lawsuits start, and people hop to the chance. Some state they were on that roller coaster sled that rammed into another and they were doing 60 mph, when it really is 10 mph [ which is NOT slow ] but not sending 25 people to the hospial after they call their lawyers ? What usually happens is thet the “victims” are fine and accept a few lifetime passes. DRH

  14. stephen ww
    Posted February 2, 2010 at 7:38 am

    not every passenger died on the mindbender only 3 that were sitting in the back train that came loose. they were tipped out.

  15. Nick haines
    Posted September 28, 2010 at 12:04 am

    Notice how they a say that they were using the safety equipment properly, or they broke some kind of rule. Roller coasters arent THAT dangerous. Its just stupid people who are dangerous.

  16. Posted October 5, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Ty for you comments, even the one that says I can’t speel (spell).

  17. Nate
    Posted December 23, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Ok but none of these deaths are anything to be feared if people pay more attention. Not a single one of these were caused by a malfunction of the coasters themselves. There was no derailing, suspension, or anything else that was unnavoidable. Just stupid people getting hit by coasters, not making sure they were properly secured, or some other silly accident…

  18. Ashley
    Posted May 26, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    I heard this ride called “Dream switcher”. Its like you go through a dark tunnel and go through loops and stuff. Your height had to be 5′3 and up to get on because there was no seat belts just bars. A man was susposed to be checking to see who is to short but accidently did not see a little boy go in. he was in a car with a woman. As the ride went the loop with the tunnels the little boy fell and got hit in the head with one of the cars. The mother was no where to be found in the park until later she was killed on a ride. they say she lift herself out and fell screaming ” I`m free”. The woman had said the little boy look suspicious and was going to tell but was so slow minded and mind her on buisness…

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