“Millions of people have safely ridden this ride in our parks,” said Six Flags spokeswoman Wendy Goldberg.
Unfortunately, one thirteen-year-old girl was not one of them. While riding the Superman Tower of Power at a Six Flags amusement park in Louisville, Kentucky, both her feet were severed at the ankles. The girl was taken to University Hospital for surgery.
The exact cause of Thursday’s accident is still being investigated. Witnesses report that the cable that broke in the duration of the ride wrapped around her legs. Passengers from the ride claim to have also been hit with the loose cable, although none of them suffered severe injuries.
The Superman Tower of Power is a drop-tower ride that takes passengers 177 feet in the air, after which they experience a vertical freefall at speeds as high as 54 mph.
As a result of the accident, this ride and many other similar drop-tower thrill rides are being temporarily shut down for inspection in parks across the country and in Canada by the Cedar Fair Entertainment and Six Flags theme park operating companies. An amusement park in Stockholm, Sweden is also taking extra precautions by shutting down its ride, which was also designed by Intamin AG, the Swiss company that made the Superman Tower of Power but did not supply all the parts for the ride. Regardless of who or what is responsible for this injury, this is one of the few and rare amusement park ride accidents in the U.S.
Amusement park rides have become decreasingly dangerous thanks to higher advances in technology and safety. According to the National Safety Council and the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, there were over 1.8 billion rides across the country and more than 300 million guests that enjoyed them safely in 2005. In that year, there were 1,713 ride-related injuries in the U.S., 132 of which were “serious” and required treatment at a hospital. Since 1987, only about four fatal injuries have occurred per year. In fact, the chance of being fatally injured is 1 in 750 million.
Nonetheless, an online Quick Vote hosted by CNN shows that from more than 84,000 participants, 63 percent of the voters fear for their safety on amusement-park rides.
The rest of Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, where the incident took place, is still open to visitors who don’t feel the least bit reluctant about spending their summer at the park.