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Widener Univ. School of Law

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Coney Island Cyclone Death Results In Lawsuit Against City

Newsday has some details on the death, in which Keith Shirasawa fractured a vertebrae on the Brooklyn roller coaster (the NYPost's coverage from the time is here; I posted about it here).  The Newsday story includes this odd bit:

Lawyers for the amusement park blamed the accident on a malfunction that caused the Cyclone to drop too fast, and that has since been corrected.

His vertebrae was apparently fractured at the bottom of the first drop.  There are really only three things that affect the speed at that point -- the length of the drop, gravity, and the angle.  The park could, I suppose, change the lift hill chain speed (starting out faster makes it get faster) or install a skid brake on the drop, but I don't think either of those things have occurred.  (Update: the lift hill only makes a difference if the train is still engaged after the train gets past the crown of the hill; on most coasters, including, I am told, the Cyclone, it is not so engaged.)

Of note, the lawsuit is against the city for failure to inspect, rather than against the park itself.

On a fairly cursory look through PACER, I can't find the complaint.

--BC

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