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Thursday, May 12, 2005

Amusement Park Death--Point the finger where?

--posted by Tony Garcia on 5/12/2005

Horrible story about a person who fell to their death from a ride where the safety protocols were disabled.

Obviously someone needs to be held responsible...but who? Is it the park owner (who may not have known about the ride's modifications) or the maintenance manager who should have known or...well, who?

Text of the story from Court TV:
One year after June Alexander's family watched her plummet 60 feet to her death from an amusement park ride, the park's manager will face murder charges Wednesday.

Charles Martin, the manager of the Rockin' Raceway amusement park at the time of the incident, faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of second-degree murder and reckless homicide for Alexander's death.

Jury selection is set to begin Wednesday in Sevierville, Tenn., a rural area better known as the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains and the home of Dolly Parton's amusement park, Dollywood.

The Alexander family traveled more than 200 miles on son Cody's birthday on March 14, 2004, to Pigeon Forge, and stopped at the Rockin' Raceway amusement park.

June Alexander, 50, and Cody boarded The Hawk, a pendulum ride that swings higher and higher until turning a complete 360 degrees.

As the two ascended, they began to cry out that June's safety harness was loose, and June's sister watched below, horrified.

Authorities later discovered that cables had been installed in the electrical panel to bypass a safety mechanism that prevents the ride from starting unless all safety harnesses are locked down, according to a police report.

Prosecutors contend Martin, who was not on the grounds at the time of the incident, should have been aware of the potential dangers the ride posed, particularly in light of evidence that the machine had been deliberately tampered with.

Separate civil suits filed by the victim's husband and sisters, who helplessly witnessed the incident, also allege Martin should have been aware of the threat posed by the ride, given a similar accident a year before in which an Indiana man clung with his legs for his life.

The defendant's lawyer, Bryan Delius, says his client is a law-abiding citizen who was unaware of the previous incident or the problems with the electrical panel.

In interviews with local newspapers, Delius said the only reason the prosecution went forward with the charges was to make tourists feel safe.

Suits filed by Alexander's sisters Gail Young and Judy Sprinkles, alleging negligent infliction of emotional distress were dismissed in January, but a wrongful death suit filed by the victim's husband, Richard Alexander, is pending.

What do you think?


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