HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA/AP) – State regulators have outlined steps a western Pennsylvania amusement park must take after a child fell from a wooden roller coaster last summer – and they urge other parks to make similar improvements. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Division of Rides and Amusements released its findings in a 19-page report, complete with still photos, video links, and witness accounts.
3-year-old Declan McClain was hospitalized after falling about 12 feet from Rollo Coaster at Westmoreland County’s Idlewild and SoakZone Park in August. He suffered a critical head injury and was hospitalized for two months. The attraction’s own camera captured an image of Declan and his 7-year-old brother riding in the coaster car just seconds before the fall.
Both boys were below the 48-inch height requirement for the ride. According to the ride’s own safety standards, they should have been accompanied by adults. Both boys should have also been sitting on “the far side” of the car. A stationary grab-bar was the only restraint.
Officials said Idlewild must install manufacturer-approved secondary passenger restraints such as seat belts before the ride can be inspected to determine whether it can reopen. Also required are an engineer inspection, consideration of minimum height requirements and changes in operator training.
Shortly after the report was released, Idlewild issued a statement. The park says state investigators have inspected the ride every year and never required changes to the ride.
Park general manager Brandon Leonatti said the accident occurred because the child “was improperly seated near the entrance without an adult.” He said a new coaster train will include individually adjustable lap bars and secondary seat belts.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)