Earlier this week, the Boomerang roller coaster at Six Flags St. Louis had a significant malfunction, which stranded a train at the bottom of the second lift, with what appeared to be a derailed wheel assembly in car number four. Several passengers were taken to a local area hospital for precautionary reasons. The ride has remained shut down pending an internal and state investigation.
The park not open to the public at the time, but was operating as part of a “School Days” event with local children and their teachers.
In a statement the park said, “Boomerang did not complete its normal ride cycle causing it to stop at a mid-point location where all guests safely exited the ride. Our First Aid staff responded immediately and four guests were transported to a local medical facility as a precautionary measure. The safety of our guests is our top priority and the ride will be closed for a thorough inspection before re-opening.”
It is not unusual for a Vekoma Boomerang model to make news, sadly. Because of the complexities of it’s dual-lift and shuttle nature, a multitude of issues can come together to cause a stranded (or valleyed) train. This is why the ride has brakes strategically placed on the ride in order to limit the possibility of a stranded train.
That being said, gauging from photos taken at the scene – this is no ordinary Boomerang valley:Back in 2013, I had the luck of being at Six Flags St. Louis when this ride opened and can report it operated fine that day, but was closed that next week due to issues with it’s second lift chain.
I, along with most who watch or work in the amusement community will look forward to hearing what the investigation comes up with – and will leave the speculation as to what exactly occurred to the “coaster pundits” that seem to thrive on this sort of event.
That all being said, a friendly reminder to anyone who might be dissuaded of going on a coaster after news like this: your odds are better of being struck by lightning or being hurt driving TO your local amusement or theme park than being injured on any ride or coaster.
Please plan accordingly.
It’s only natural to want to try and speculate on what exactly happened last Friday night at Six Flags Over Texas. I’ve even caught myself doing it on occasion to friends or co-workers, who have asked me about the unfolding situation.
But that doesn’t mean it’s right.
With inaccurate eyewitness reports, the urge to find out as much information as possible before anyone else has it – we as humans tend to want to fill in the facts when there’s an unknown. The speculation had already begun today, as well as recommendations for change, despite not even knowing what exactly occurred.
People were already getting in front of the media, illustrating, “…where she fell out,” and were even calling for “Over the Shoulder Restraints” or OTSR on more rides, as if they would have clearly prevented this accident from occurring. All of this was being done without any formal information on what exactly happened.
Speculation can only lead us as a society to a skewed, unwarranted perception of the event. Currently, that misconception is: “…because someone died on a roller coaster – ALL OF THEM must be dangerous!”
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The truth is this, folks: You’re more likely to be hurt riding an ESCALATOR at the mall than you are on a looping roller coaster. Parks don’t want accidents – they want you to feel safe. It’s very much a “self-policing” industry. Gone are the days of the Roaring 20’s, where rides that killed became MORE popular.
While we live in an age of instant communication, instant answers – this is one event that we must wait for. Only time will tell what happens next in this investigation – but can’t we all just give this investigation just that, a little TIME?