EDISON - Recent national news stories involving injuries and deaths on amusement park rides have some New Jersey residents wondering what safeguards are in place to limit dangerous situations.
Three girls are recovering from injuries they sustained after falling from a Ferris wheel in Tennessee. The basket they were riding in simply flipped over Monday night.
A 10-year-old boy was killed over the weekend after suffering a neck injury at a 17-stories-high water slide in Kansas City. That accident raised questions about the slide’s safety. The opening of that slide in 2014 was repeatedly delayed because of tests that showed rafts were prone to flying off.
New Jersey attorney Brian Drazin specializes in amusement park law. He believes ride-related injuries are likely to become more common as park operators build more extreme rides.
“I think there are hidden dangers in amusement parks,” he says. “What we're looking at now is a ride that's subjecting the brain to all sorts of multi-angular forces, back and forth, side to side, up and down, and sometimes all at once.”
Officials with the amusement park industry insist injuries are extremely rare. However, getting information about accidents nationwide is difficult because most states do not quite them to be reported.
New Jersey has some of the toughest regulations for amusement park rides in the country. Inspectors check amusement parks, water parks and traveling carnivals. Park operators are required to report all ride-related accidents which result in first aid.
But a Kane In Your Corner investigation found that not all incidents are always reported. While many operators report injuries like small lacerations and bumps that require ice, others only report serious injuries. Some even insist state inspectors are the ones telling them to do that.
“There were six or seven scrapes and cuts or elbows bumped that we didn’t send to the state yesterday because they won’t want to have to fish through anything that’s not important,” says water park operator Roger Chewning.
Kane In Your Corner will have more information on amusement park ride accidents in New Jersey in the second part of the investigation scheduled to air Wednesday.