Posted on Jan 12, 2009

The parents of 13-year-old Kaitlyn Lasitter filed a lawsuit July 12 against Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom of Louisville. The teen lost both feet June 21 when a cable snapped on the Superman Tower of Power thrill ride. Inspectors said the ride had no maintenance problems. The ride lifts riders 177 feet in the air, then drops them 154 feet at 50 miles an hour.

The girl’s name was not released. She was transported to a hospital and is in stable condition.

Inspectors Looking for Cause

The Louisville Courier-Journal (LCJ) reported Bill Clary, spokesman for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Office of Consumer and Environmental Protection, still is seeking answers. “It looks like a cable caused the injury, but we have no idea what caused the accident,” he said. Clary said if a law was broken, there could be criminal and civil penalties. "We’re a long way off from that.” He said the ride passed state inspection in April. The only blemish on the ride’s record was a loose handrail Clary said.

Maryland-based Intamin Ltd. designed Superman Tower of Power but the ride was installed by Six Flags of Louisville in 1995. Intamin has supplied 24 thrill rides at amusement parks around the world, said WKLY-TV in Louisville, Ky., The company is credited with inventing the first free-fall ride.

Treva Smith witnessed the aftermath. "The lady was just sitting there and had no legs," Smith said. She was just calm, probably in shock from everything."

Accident is Fourth at Louisville Park

There have been previous incidents at the Louisville park, said the LCJ. In 1994, a 7-year-old was critically injured when two Starchaser roller coaster cars collided. The incident was caused by operator error. Six were injured on the same ride a year earlier when two cars were rear-ended by a third.  In 1992, a passenger dislocated both knees while riding the Shoot the Chute. Her raft hit an abutment at the end of the water slide.

In 1999, a 12-year-old died on a California ride similar to Louisville’s Tower of Power when his harness let loose and he fell 50 feet.

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions recorded 1,713 injuries on rides in 2005, after 300 million people took 1.8 billion rides. Of the 1,713 hurt 132 were hospitalized.
Bob Battle
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