Double-amputee vet killed in rollercoaster fall, Part 2

A veteran who courageously lost both of his legs while serving in Iraq was killed after he fell from a rollercoaster in New York.

Now a Massachusetts congressman who advocates for federal regulatory supervision of fixed-site amusement parks said that the state and local officials who currently oversee the parks may not have the necessary experience and resources to effectively conduct safety checks and investigations into accidents.

“While the cause of the accident that claimed the life of [the veteran] is still unknown, one thing is crystal clear: Hypercoasters that hurtle riders at speeds exceeding 70 miles per hour along 200-foot drops should not be exempt from federal safety oversight,” the representative told Reuters.

He said that he plans to re-introduce legislation he has presented to Congress several times in the past which would put the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a federal consumer protection agency, in charge of regulating the fixed-site amusement park industry.

Historically, the legislation proposed by the Massachusetts lawmaker has been met with hostility from both republicans and democrats. Part of the reason could be because fixed-site amusement parts are generally accident-free, a spokeswoman for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions said.

According to a research firm working on behalf of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, there were 685 serious injuries at fixed-site amusement parks which required at least 24 hours of hospital treatment from 2003 and 2009.

But this doesn’t mean that the family of the veteran killed will not be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the theme park. Although the veteran’s mother admitted that her son was “doing what he wanted to do” by going on the ride, it still could be determined that the theme park workers breached a duty of care in some way.

Source: Reuters, “Double amputee’s theme park death reignites regulatory fight,” Eric Johnson, 7/10/2011.