These Brutal Theme Park Accidents Make Us Never Want to Ride a Roller Coaster Again
Theme parks are a staple in many family vacations. And lucky for you, your favorite rides are checked dozens of times daily to ensure they’re safe for thousands of riders. That doesn’t mean accidents don’t occur, however. TripSavvy explains the odds are good you’ll ride safely on a coaster, but in 2014, there were still at least 1,150 ride-related injuries in the U.S. alone.
Here’s a ranking of the most severe roller coaster accidents we’ve ever heard of.
9. A woman’s head struck a guardrail when this Japanese roller coaster derailed
The Fujin Raijin II, an exhilarating roller coaster built for an amusement park in Osaka, Japan, went on without a hitch for 15 years. But in 2007, tragedy struck — and now it’s known as the sight of one of the scariest roller coaster accidents ever.
News.com.au explains the coaster completely derailed in May 2007. Not only did it throw passengers out off the track, but 19-year-old Yoshino Kogowara died instantly when her head hit a guardrail. Eighteen others also sustained injuries.
Next: Bystanders said when they saw this accident, they knew the passengers had to be dead.
8. A woman and her daughter died when flung out of the Wild Wonder
In 1999, bystanders watched helplessly as they witnessed the unthinkable. Thirty-nine-year-old Kimberly Bailey was riding the Wild Wonder in Ocean City, New Jersey, with her daughter. As the coaster reached the highest point of its ascent, The New York Times explains the chain that lets the car go down the track released prematurely. This caused the car to plummet backwards.
As one witness explains, “I saw two bodies fly, incredibly. It was a woman and a child. The woman slammed into a beam. The child just flew. I knew right away they had to be dead.”
Next: We all have this fear when we’re on a roller coaster.
7. The lap bar on the Black Witch came undone, flinging a passenger out
There’s a reason Myrtle Beach’s Magic Harbor theme park isn’t in business anymore — and that’s because of the Black Witch coaster. Grunge explains 13-year-old Sherri Depew was seated properly in the ride. But then her lap bar came undone while the ride was running. She fell out of her seat and died.
A passenger who was next to her explains that she “was trying her best to bring herself back in, but there was nothing to reach for.”
Next: This horrifying incident is straight out of a nightmare.
6. A car from Willard’s Whizzer crushed a teenager
HowStuffWorks notes Willard’s Whizzer was such a slow coaster that it was built without safety constraints. That didn’t stop it from fatally killing one passenger, however.
HowStuffWorks explains in 1980, one teenager was stepping on to his train car when a second runaway train car rammed into the one he was boarding. This threw the teen onto the tracks, where the car then kept moving and crushed his chest and abdomen. He died and eight others were injured.
Next: Think your train car is totally secure on the tracks? Think again.
5. An entire car on Nebraska’s Big Dipper fell 35 feet to the ground
This incident still stands as the deadliest roller coaster accident ever to occur in America, Thought Catalog explains. In 1930, the Big Dipper coaster in Krug Park, Nebraska, was the talk of the town. But due to brake failure, several cars plummeted off the tracks and 35 feet to the ground. Four people died as a result of being crushed, and an additional 19 were injured. Krug Park saw incredibly low attendance after that — perhaps for good reason.
Next: There’s a lot of irony in this next horrifying accident.
4. One of the ‘safest rides in the world’ disengaged, killing 3
Being a triple-loop indoor coaster within the largest indoor amusement park in the world, the MindBender was a showstopper. And in the ’80s, the coaster was also touted as one of the safest rides in the world.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation explains in 1986, the coaster crashed into a pillar and hurled four passengers below onto the concrete floor. Passenger Rod Chayko, who was riding the MindBender with his three friends when it crashed, was the only survivor.
Next: This shocking accident could have — and should have — been easily avoided.
3. A teenager was decapitated by the Batman roller coaster
This story of a teenager who hopped the roller coaster fences to retrieve his hat has a horrifying ending. Fox News explains in June 2008, Asia Leeshawn Ferguson lost his hat while riding the Batman roller coaster at Six Flags Over Georgia. He decided to jump the fences and restricted areas to grab it. Unfortunately, he didn’t notice the coaster was headed right toward him at 50 miles per hour. It struck him in the head and decapitated him.
Next: This woman fell out of this coaster at a shocking height, making it one of the worst accidents.
2. A woman was ejected from the Texas Giant and fell 75 feet to her death
Texas doesn’t have a very strict inspection system in place, so perhaps this more recent accident can inspire change for the future. Dallas News reports in 2013, Rosa Esparza rode the Texas Giant at Six Flags Over Texas — but she was not appropriately fitted into her seat before the coaster took off. It was just a minute into the ride when she fell 75 feet as the coaster made its first big descent. She struck a support beam and then later landed on a tunnel roof — and the aftermath was truly horrifying.
Next: You should stay away from any coaster with this name, as there are two on this list.
1. England’s Big Dipper coaster crushed 5 children after a cable snapped
The Independent reports a malfunction with the Big Dipper coaster at Battersea Park in England now stands as the deadliest roller coaster crash in history. The rope that carries the cars up the hill snapped, causing several of the cars to fly down the first hill backwards. Five children died and 13 others were injured.
As one survivor said, “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 … It was awful.”
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