Sunday, July 29, 2007
A couple of weeks ago, a sixteen-year-old girl fell to her death while riding an "Air Glory" ride at a Christian festival in Wisconsin. This ride is somewhat similar conceptually to the popular SkyCoaster rides, but is very different in setup. It appears that the Air Glory ride uses a construction crane adapted to use for the ride's purposes.
The state has now released its inspection report: Download AirGloryReport.pdf [PDF]
The report concludes that the ride itself, though violating code in many ways, had no defect that caused the death. It does not quite reach a conclusion about what did cause it, but hints strongly at operator error:
Mr. Armelin was working on the right side of the platform, and Mr. Ross was working on the left side. Mr. Ross said that Mr. Armelin was a new employee having worked for Mr. Ross only about two weeks. Mr. Ross also said Mr. Armelin also had a tendency not to lock the carabineer after attaching the rider to the ride. Mr. Ross said he always worked on the left side when working with Mr. Armelin so that he (Mr. Ross) could check the carabineer before attaching the safety rope. Mr. Ross stated if the carabineer was locked, there would be no way it could come loose when a person was attached to it. Mr. Ross also said that if the carabineer was locked and if the safety rope was properly attached it would not be possible for anyone to come loose from the ride. This is consistent with the statements that Mr. Ross provided to the Oshkosh Police and with Commerce’s independent investigation.
The state has imposed new restrictions on rides owned by the Air Glory's owner and announced its intention to implement an emergency rule regarding similar rides, and to re-evaluate the ride safety program in Wisconsin. There's been no lawsuit filed (yet).