June 21, 2007 was a day that will live on in infamy, as it’s a day when one of the most horrific amusement park accidents of all time occurred. The accident occurred at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville, Kentucky.
13-year old Kaitlyn Lassiter was spending the day at the park with her friends. It appeared to be just another Thursday afternoon. It was hot, in the low 90s. It was a mostly clear afternoon with blue skies and a few clouds.
Kaitlyn and her friend decided to ride the Superman Tower of Power ride. A 177-foot tower that drops riders 154 feet in a freefall, reaching a top speed of 54 miles-per-hour before slowing to a stop about 20 feet above the ground.
The girls rode the ride once, and decided to go on it a second time since the line was short. Little did they know what awaited them on this second ride.
As Kaitlyn Lassiter and her friend took their seats for the second time on the Superman Tower of Power ride, they had no idea that their lives were about to change forever. The ride began its ascent, and then, a frightening noise and unexpected jerks. Ms. Lassiter stated,
“As we started to go up, we were laughing about something, and then it almost as if it jolted or something, and then it almost as if it jolted a little bit or something, like a whipping sound or something.”
A cable fell onto the girls, injuring Ms. Lassiter and wrapping around her torso and neck. Ms. Lassiter recalled that moment, stating:
“We looked up, and there were a bunch of cables falling, and this was only about 20 feet off the ground.”
Their screams for help drew a crowd, but tragically, the ride continued its journey upwards. Then, the acrid smell of machine smoke began to permeate the air, signalling that something was seriously wrong. Nevertheless, the ride kept ascending.
“It kept going up and at this point, I had cables all over my body. There was a cable hanging below me. There were cables all over my friends.”
With her life hanging in the balance, Kaitlyn managed to remove the cable from her torso, but the worst was yet to come. Just as the ride reached its peak, and an operator finally hit the emergency stop button, the ride released its passengers in a horrifying freefall.
Ms. Lassiter recalls,
“My lip was busted. I had cuts all over me. And I was bleeding and freaking out. I remember smoke and the smell of burning. I felt like I was going to die. We kept screaming stop the ride. People were frantically freaking out. I remember something else fell on us, which was more cable. We even had cables around our necks and we pulled them off… Something hard hit our head. And then we dropped.”
During the fall, the cables tightened around Kaitlyn’s legs, severing both feet above the ankles. The tragic scene was laid bare for all to witness. Despite the emergency stop, safety mechanisms on the ride prevented the passengers from being released immediately, forcing Kaitlyn to endure an agonizing wait before help could reach her.
In the immediate aftermath, Kaitlyn was rushed to the hospital. Doctors miraculously reattached her right leg, but her left leg was beyond saving. This was a nightmare that no one should have to experience, particularly a young girl with a lifetime of dreams and possibilities ahead of her.
Were Negligent Maintenance and Negligent Training to Blame?
This devastating accident highlights the dire consequences of negligence and a lack of proper training. According to Intamin, the ride manufacturer, they provided a manual to Six Flags which provided that, as part of ride maintenance, technicians should use a cotton rag to inspect the cables every six months. However, this procedure was never followed. Instead, to prevent slippage, park technicians applied cornstarch to the cables.
Training, too, was a glaring issue. The ride operator failed to promptly hit the emergency stop button when the passengers began screaming. Instead, the ride operator got on the phone when the operator heard the passengers screaming. The operated waited nearly 10 seconds after the screams began before finally hitting the emergency stop button. The critical seconds lost before the operator finally hit the stop button likely contributed to the tragedy.
This was an avoidable accident caused by what seem to be a series of failures - failure to maintain equipment, to follow manufacturer instructions, and to respond promptly during a crisis. Ms. Lassiter’s haunting account of the event serves as a harrowing reminder of the severe consequences that negligence can have, and it underscores the importance of diligent maintenance and safety practices in environments like amusement parks. This should never happen.
Do You Need an Amusement Park Accident Attorney?
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in an Orlando, Florida amusement park or theme park, you should speak with a skilled, experienced, and aggressive amusement park accident attorney as soon as possible because you may be entitled to compensation. Please don’t hesitate to contact us on our website, or you can call our Orlando, Florida personal injury law firm today at (321) 352-7588 to schedule your free consultation by phone. When you schedule a consultation at our law firm, you will get a consultation with a lawyer, not a customer service representative or intake person.
If you need a South Carolina personal injury lawyer, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at (843) 638-6590. We have at least one lawyer licensed in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. So, if you’ve been injured in the Southeast, we have you covered. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need us.
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