As a parent and an injury lawyer, I am amazed and scared by the threats posed to the public at theme parks. On June 29th, 2008, a 17 year old boy climbed two six foot fences and strolled into a restricted area at a Six Flags in Georgia where he was decapitated ( his head was cut off ) by a roller coaster called Batman. The State Supervisory Body have now told the amusement park that as a result of the incident it must increase the size and number of warning signs near other popular roller coasters. In May, a girl’s feet were cut off during another ride, called Superman, again at a Six Flags. The family filed a negligence suit against the park.
Horror stories like these often bring up the question: Why isn’t anything being done to prevent these tragedies? The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) figures show that around 6,000 – 7,000 people are treated in emergency rooms by amusement park related incidents every year. The CPSC was created to shield the public from ” unreasonable risks of injuries associated with consumer products”, yet its power in this industry is limited. Amusement parks with a fixed site such as our local ,Kings Dominion (Hanover County, Virginia (VA) ), and Busch Gardens (Williamsburg, Virginia (VA) ) are granted an exemption from the CPSC, which leaves only parks that move ( like the circus), under the jurisdiction of the CPSC. This results in the injury toll being unreported.
What’s the point of having a commission that doesn’t work? This is a great example of red tape. The problem with federal agencies like the CPSC is that they are too cozy with the industries they regulate, so enforcement is limited. In this case, the big wigs at the heads of these Amusement Park companies are benefiting from not being under the rules the CPSC can place, but doesn’t, and thus lure more customers under false pretenses of safety.