Amusement Park Safety Concerns Following Incident Stranding Two on a Panama City Beach Ride

Amusement park rides are often a way for people to experience the thrill and exhilaration of movement while staying safe and free from real harm. Our Panama City amusement park injury law firm knows that most riders leave the park at the end of the day with smiles and new memories. However, sometimes a fun day goes wrong, causing distress or injury to those involved.

WJHG is reporting on a recent problem on a local amusement ride. 22-year-old Kyle Baumgartner and 12-year-old Kyle Davis spent part of Saturday at Panama City Beach's Cobra Amusement Park. A mechanical error stranded the two riders at the top of one ride. According to reports, a hydraulic pump that powers the ride's movement broke down, rendering operators unable to move the ride. There was no override measure available to start the equipment's movement. Instead, the Panama City Fire Department called in a commercial crane with an attached bucket to assist in the rescue.

The crane arrived on the scene at approximately 4 P.M. and was able to retrieve the stranded passengers shortly before 5:30. In total, the ride failure trapped Baumgartner and Davis near its peak for nearly four hours. The pair both reported feeling the ride shake just after it stopped. They initially thought someone was playing a joke on them put became aware it was more serious as time passed and managers and others gathered around the ride. Thankfully no medical emergencies or other injuries occurred during the rescue, and they were brought down safely in the crane's bucket.

Fixed-site amusement rides tend to have pretty strong safety records. An industry group said that approximately 290 million guests enjoyed 1.7 billion rides at U.S. amusement facilities in 2010. For all those rides on fixed-site equipment, an estimated 1,207 ride-related injuries occurred in that year with only 59 injuries listed as "serious", meaning the injured person needed overnight hospital care.

Unlike fixed-site rides, mobile rides fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The mobile rides are moved from location to locations, serving events such as carnivals, fairs, and parties. According to the CPSC, such rides accounted for an estimated 2,500 injuries requiring hospital treatment in 2004. This number has held fairly steady between 1997 and 2004.

Although similar, inflatable rides such as slides or bounce houses are considered separately by the CPSC. That group resulted in an estimated 4,900 hospital visits in 2004, a number that has shown an upward trend since 1997. For both categories, the numbers do not include occupational injuries.

Amusement park guests do have the right to expect a safe visit. A range of legal principles may apply to an injured park visitor. Relevant claims could include product liability claims for design issues, failure to warn of potential risks, inadequate maintenance, inadequate security, and failure to train employees. Of course, non-ride-related accidents can also occur on park grounds. Slip-and-fall injuries can arise due to crowding, unclean walkways, and poor lighting. These injuries can give rise to a traditional premises liability claim.

If you have been injured at an amusement park or fair in our region, please call our experienced Panama City injury law firm. We will meet with you to discuss the facts of your case and explain how the law may apply to your circumstances. An initial consultation is free, and most cases are handled on a contingency basis, so you only pay attorney's fees if you recover compensation.

For tips on having a safe visit to an amusement park see Saferparks, a non-profit organization focused on park safety that includes safety tips and information about park oversight, and the Safety tab on the IAAPA website, an international association of permanently-situated amusement parks and other facilities.

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