The Six Flags legal team started real early this morning.
Yesterday, The Ninja roller coaster carrying 22 people fell off its tracks at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California leaving four injured and probably scared out of their gourd. I'm sure at some point they all thought they were going to die. Ugh.
The reason why the ride fell off its tracks? A tree branch. That's right, not some sort of electrical fluke, or any kind of man-made error. Just a tree branch. I tell ya, if a tree branch is the cause of anyone possibly losing their life on a roller coaster, we have to re-configure some things out here. So I have a couple of questions about a "branch" that can knock over a rollercoaster this size.
Here's some news footage on what happened:
Yep, I was right. That looks terrible.
But back to this branch. This is what Six Flags is saying derailed the rollercoaster, which authorities have confirmed to the LA Times. Now my question is that this seems to be a pretty odd reason for a roller coaster to get knocked off its tracks, especially if it's a coaster that is made to ride under the tracks, not on top. Secondly, it seems a little convenient that Six Flags, a huge theme park franchise with around 23 locations is blaming this accident on a tree branch. I'm just playing devil's advocate, but I've seen enough 90's thrillers to know when something smells a little funny. And I'd hope someone outside of the Six Flags organization would confirm this branch business. I imagine the Six Flags emergency clean up crew fixing everything and telling the police, "Yep, just a branch! Not our fault here!" But hey, it really could've just been a branch, what do I know.
My main point is that this wouldn't have been the first time a coaster screwed up. In September 2012, the Windseeker at Knott's Berry Farm in California had a brake freeze and decided to leave 20 passengers 300 feet in the air for 3 1/2 hours until they could finally lower the ride.
The reason why a fire department ladder couldn't simply bring the riders down is because even when you're suspended for the shortest time with your legs hanging without support, they start to lose circulation leaving you unable to walk. So even if a ladder could reach them, they wouldn't even be able to step onto it safely.
This incident happened not once, but twice in 2012. The ride has since been dismantled and moved to World's of Fun in Kansas City, MO, where I doubt it is any safer to the people riding it. It's like that scene where one character finds out something bad about the company he works for, and is then moved to work in some remote station where he's never heard from again.
Six Flags Magic Mountain has temporarily shut down the Ninja without word on when it will re-open. Hopefully SF is removing any of those pesky branches near the track from causing any harm to other riders in the future. Regardless, my fear of a roller coaster, or any carnival ride going off the tracks is more strong and present than ever this morning.
Tweet me if you hate roller coasters too @Todd_Spence