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State Gives Dorney Park High Marks for Rider Safety

Dorney Park alerted the state to the Stinger coaster getting stuck on Wednesday even though it was not required by law to do so, a state Department of Agriculture spokeswoman said.

Despite riders being stuck on the Stinger coaster at  for 90 minutes on Wednesday, the park receives high marks for rider safety from the state Department of Agriculture, the agency responsible for regulating rides at amusement parks and community festivals in Pennsylvania.

"They have an outstanding record with us," said Nicole Bucher, spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture. 

Bucher said Dorney Park alerted the state to the malfunction on Wednesday, even though it was not required by law to do so since no one was injured.

Dorney Park has its own ride inspectors on site, but a state quality assurance inspector who lives nearby went to the park "to get a handle on the situation."

Dorney Park's spokeswoman Carrie Basta said a mechanical issue caused the ride to get stuck. "The ride is not operating yet as we work to correct the source of the problem," she said Friday afternoon.

The Stinger, an inverted coaster that flips riders six times, is new to Dorney Park this season.

Dorney got the Stinger from Great America Park in California, where 24 riders got stuck on the ride (then known as Invertigo) for hours in 2009 because of a mechanical failure, according to a published report. No one was injured.

Park officials have said , including ungraded control systems and newly installed mechanical and drive systems.

The Stinger also got stuck on May 25, according to a video posted on Youtube by a park patron. Basta said she did not have knowledge of that stoppage, "so I cannot speak to that."

Ride malfunctions happen "from time to time" at amusement parks and festivals and that it's "a good thing" if a stop is triggered, such as with Stinger on Wednesday, said the state's Bucher. "It's a safety feature," she said, "and it's designed to protect riders."

She described Dorney Park as "top notch" in inspecting rides and in its commitment to customer safety. 

Dorney Park's maintenance and operational staff inspect each ride at the park daily, prior to its opening, Basta said. And the staff regularly goes through ride inspection courses and certification.

A rider stuck on Stinger Wednesday who commented on Patch wrote that there did not seem to be a safe way to evacuate people from the ride. "The scariest part was they seemed to really not know or have an emergency plan in place," the person wrote. 

In response, Basta said in an email, "When these unexpected things happen, we take them on a case by case basis considering all the factors of that individual situation to develop a plan that is the safest for our guests.  It is our ultimate goal in situations like these to get the train back into the station so guests can exit in the way that the ride is designed to, which we were able to accomplish in this latest situation."

She said Dorney had consulted too with a technical team while installing the ride to determine how to handle a rescue if the park was unable to have the train re-enter the station.

BY THE NUMBERS

(Source: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture)

70 percent of injuries on amusement rides are the result of riders failing to follow directions, while the other 30 percent of injuries are caused by mechanical or operator error.

* More than 8,700 amusement rides and attractions – more than any other state or foreign country -- are registered with the state Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Ride and Measurement Standards.

Ride Injury Statistics

At Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom in 2011:

* 52 incidents required medical attention, from headaches to cuts.

The most serious were: 

* Two fractured wrists. One happened while someone waited in line for a ride and the other when someone was getting on a water ride.  

* A concussion, when someone fell out of an inner tube on a water ride.

Statewide:

2011: 230 injuries

2010: 234 injuries

2009: 241 injuries

2008: 238 injuries

voice of reason June 08, 2012 at 09:40 PM
would love to see a list of all incidents reported to the state and all the deaths that have occurred at the park

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