Here are the worst roller coaster deaths ever. These horrifying theme park stories of unlucky roller coasters derailed & are some of the most scary amusement park disasters to occur.
6: The Overseas China Town East Theme Park
Tuesday, June 29th, 2010: the Space Journey—a ride designed to simulate the flight of a space shuttle—falls 50 feet to the ground at the Overseas Chinese Town East amusement park in the southern city of Shenzhen, a one-hour drive north of Hong Kong. The failed ride left six theme park goers dead, including four women and two men. The victims ranged from 24 to 48 years old. In addition, ten others were injured; five of which were in left serious condition. The injured victims were taken to the Shenzhen hospital where they immediately received medical treatment. The Space Journey ride held 12 cabins, each of which can fit up to four people. Witnesses told Hong Kong’s Daily News that one of the cabins came loose during a high-speed spin & struck other cabins, while the Southern Metropolis Daily reported that survivors heard a loud explosion of what seemed to be a power cut moments before the drop. The day following the accident, the six people who lost their lives were identified as tourists from different provinces in China. Perhaps the most appalling part was the fact that the accident took place three months after a visit by state officials & only eight days after a post-maintenance inspection by theme park employees. The Space Journey attraction ironically received an A-level national safety standard qualification from the China Special Equipment Inspection one year prior to the incident as well. Compensation is expected to be paid to the victims in accordance with public liability insurance. As a result, Lao Yibo—Deputy General Manager of a popular Chinese travel agency—recommended entertainment facilities & theme parks be graded by their level of safety as well as their application of various types of safety inspections.
5: Six Flags Over Georgia
June, 2008: a 17-year-old teenage boy is decapitated by the Batman ride in Atlanta’s Six Flags Over Georgia theme park. Spokeswoman Hela Sheth said in a news release that Asia LeeShawn Ferguson of Springfield, South Carolina ignored signs that said the restricted area was both dangerous & off-limits, & proceeded to climb two six-foot fences in order to recover a hat he lost while riding the roller coaster. Police said the ride was flying at its maximum speed of 50 miles per hour when the machine rammed into Asia, splicing his head off instantaneously. Another teenage boy who was a friend of Asia’s also entered the area but did not receive any injuries. Asia & his parents were at the park with the Oakley Spring Baptist Church Sunday School to sightsee & spend the day there with the rest of its 200 members from Springfield, South Carolina. Out of respect for Ferguson’s family, Six Flags officials closed the 11-year-old Batman roller coaster ride for the rest of the day after the Saturday afternoon disaster, which was to be reopened the following Monday. Asia Ferguson was an upcoming senior student at W.J. Keenan High School. His father said “Teenage boys do what teenage boys do. Sometimes they make good decisions. Sometimes they make bad decisions. He didn’t do anything wrong. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
4: The Oakwood Theme Park
April 15th, 2004: 16-year-old Hayley Williams is on vacation with her mother, 13-year-old sister, & some friends at the Oakwood Theme Park in Tenby, Wales. She was riding the Hydro water ride, which opened in 2002 & is known for its height; being only 34 feet shorter than Canada’s largest waterfall, the Niagara Falls. Hayley’s mother said Hayley was familiar with Hydro as she had been on it several times before. But this time in particular, she was hurtled 100 feet to the ground from the cable car right as the ride plummeted down a near-vertical drop at 50 miles per hour. She suffered severe internal injuries & was airlifted to Withy Bush Hospital after park authorities called for an emergency response, but died at the hospital that same day. Another person present during the incident named Martin Rothwell also received minor injuries after being hit by Hayley as she fell from Hydro. CCTV footage reveals that basic safety instructions were ignored by the staff that was in charge of the ride that day. A mechanical engineer also pointed out that safety of the seat was insupportable, as tests shows he was able to slip out of Hayley’s seat even after pulling the safety bar down. The ride was closed for a year & when it did reopen, they were required to install over-the-shoulder restraints—which are a step up from the seat belt & lap bars—in order to add to the ride’s safety. They also changed the name of the ride to Drenched. Two years after Hayley’s death, the Oakwood Theme Park was fined £250,000 when they settled for a loss on behalf of the staff’s failure to follow standard safety procedures on that fateful day.
3: The Battersea Fun Fair
One of the most tragic roller coaster accidents in the history of Britain’s amusement parks occurred at the Battersea Fun Fair in 1972. Located in London’s Battersea Park, the Big Dipper opened in 1951 & was the park’s main wooden roller coaster attraction. But 21 years after its opening, it claimed the lives of five children when the wooden train being elevated up to the start of the ride broke loose from its carrying cable & rolled backwards into the station, smashing into another waiting train. Thirteen others were injured in the accident as well. One particular passenger was Carolyn, a 14-year-old schoolgirl who was lucky enough to escape with minor injuries when the big dipper crashed. She was able to recall the entire incident, stating: “As soon as we started shooting backwards everything went into slow motion… I turned around and saw the brake man desperately trying to put the brake on but it wasn’t working. Most of the carriages didn’t go around the bend, one detached and went off the side through a wooden hoarding. People were groaning and hanging over the edge. It was awful.” The little girl sitting next to Carolyn was one of the five children killed in the Battersea Park. After the accident, the Big Dipper was taken apart & closed down. The fair’s popularity ultimately declined quickly with the lack of a main attraction. The rest of the fair was closed two years later in 1974.
May 5th, 2007: a six-car roller coaster called Fujin Raijin II is derailed at the Expoland amusement park in Suita, Japan. The ride is about 130 feet high & can carry up to 24 people. Unlike most roller coasters in which you’re built to sit in, the Fujin Raijin II was made for passengers to stand throughout the course of the ride. And on this particular day—which was, in fact, Children’s Day in Japan—20 passengers were onboard & more than halfway along its 3,400-foot course while traveling at about 45 miles per hour when a wheel axle on one of the seats broke, sending cars flying off the tracks & battering into a nearby guardrail. A 19-year-old student was killed & 19 others were injured. Additionally, the coaster ran another thousand feet further before finally coming to a complete stop. According to firefighters responding to the scene, the 19-year-old student who did not survive was riding in the front left side of the second car & died instantly after her head slammed against the guardrail. Investigators later discovered that none of the ride’s axles were replaced for 15 years & a broken one caused the crash. The ride’s operator stated that axles were not among the parts checked regularly or monthly during their standard inspections. In fact, not one was ever changed since its first public run in March of 1992. Expoland had been accident-free for 37 years since its opening in 1970. But this deadly accident in 2007 led to its permanent closure that same year.
1: Galaxy Land Amusement Park
Located in the world’s largest indoor shopping & entertainment complex at Galaxy Land Amusement Park in Alberta, Canada is the Mindbender. This twisted roller coaster was declared one of the “safest rides in the world” just one day before it came crashing into a concrete pillar of the mall. The ride’s layout features several twisting drops, three vertical loops, & a double upward helix for climax. The ride even twists around, underneath, & in between its supports. But on a late Saturday night in June of 1986, a total of 12 people were riding the roller coaster when the last of the four-car train started fishtailing out of control while traveling at 60 miles per hour due to missing bolts on the left inside wheel mechanism. In addition, a crowd was watching a concert below as the train stalled at the top then slid backwards. It was at this point that the last car collided with the support structures & flew off the tracks. This immediately plunged three people to their deaths. The fourth person in the car suffered chest injuries & serious neck injuries. An Edmonton resident named Kurt said the Mindbender car came off the rails while upside down. It then threw its victims against a pole before falling about 25 feet to the ground. Mall security personnel rushed to evacuate the area & locked the park after the accident. It wasn’t reopened until seven months later, but this time with new safety features. It has since then had an excellent safety record.