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Kentucky Kingdom (SFKK, KK) Discussion Thread

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I don't think that they should sell it for scrap metal. If I were them I would store it at a park that needs a drop ride (like SFMM) and rebuild it there in the future after the buzz about the accident has gone down.


It's kind of like what they did at Six Flags St. Louis with Superman: Tower of Power.

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  • 1 month later...

I signed on to AOL today and saw another article for the accident here at SFKK. This article is about how the maintenance personnel were not following Intamins daily inspection and lubrication guidelines. This is from a deposition on actual litigation now going on. This is a horrible thing to find out.


Here is the link to the whole story


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I heard some explanation of what happened, sadly I cannot share it, but if it is accurate, it's bad news for SFI, particularly the ops and maintenance, as well as bad for Intamin.


And I finally understand how this happened. I was making a single, faulty supposition: that there is a pulley on the part of the ride that pulls the cars to the top, and stays up there when the car is dropped.


There is not, and that, combined with one other item of information makes it all clear to me that this accident could have been prevented in a number of ways.

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Saw the park across the parking lot yesterday when I went to a Louisville Fire game. The skyline just doesn't look right with STOP gone. Especially the front side of the park...


Sorry to change the subject, but does anyone know what is going to replace the ride when the park opens? Surely it won't just be a pile of dirt as soon as you enter the gates!

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I think the fault is going to be both the park and Intamin.


If something wasn't getting checked, that's maintenance -- SF's problem.


Wires snapping due to poor wear and tear sounds like a manufacturer's problem as well.


Like this accident could have been prevented if either one of them had double safety checked something as vital as cables snapping, and its unfortunate both seem to have gotten caught with their pants down.


Man, Intamin can't get a break.

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^ A little more detail:




Maintenance workers for Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom did not follow several of a ride manufacturer's instructions for caring for a cable that snapped and severed the feet of a Louisville teenager last summer, according to a maintenance supervisor's sworn statement.



John Schmidt, the park's ride-maintenance manager since 1999, said in a deposition in November that technicians for the theme park never performed a hands-on inspection before the accident on any of the 10 cables on the Superman Tower of Power ride.


Schmidt, 56, also said that park technicians did not lubricate the cables monthly, and that they applied cornstarch to reduce "cable slippage" from over-lubrication that they believed was coming from the ride's machinery.


Inspection and maintenance procedures specified in the ride manual, prepared by the manufacturer, calls for a "rag test" to be used in conjunction with a visual inspection to detect broken wires that could weaken the cables. The manual also says the cables should be lubricated monthly, and it contains no recommendations for using cornstarch or any other substance that would reduce lubrication.


Ride manufacturer Intamin, which has offices in Switzerland and Maryland, specifies in its maintenance manual that: "For safety, best performance and long life of the equipment, a reliable preventative maintenance program must be carried out according to the maintenance guidelines. For damages caused by failure to follow these instructions or by changes in the systems … no claims can be made to the manufacturer."


On June 21, a snapped cable on the Kentucky Kingdom ride, formerly named the Hellevator, severed both feet of rider Kaitlyn Lasitter, 14. Two other girls in Kaitlyn's car were also injured.


Randy and Monique Lasitter, Kaitlyn's parents, have sued the park, claiming it failed to properly maintain the ride and ensure riders' safety. They have not sued the manufacturer or the cable maker.


The Lasitters provided to The Courier-Journal records they have obtained through the legal process but which have not been added to the public court file, including Schmidt's deposition and the ride-maintenance manual, because they said the public needs to know the facts in the case.


"It was not a freak accident," Randy Lasitter said in an interview.


Kentucky Kingdom spokeswoman Carolyn McLean said in an e-mailed statement that she could not answer questions regarding the park's maintenance procedures because of the ongoing investigation.


The state Department of Agriculture, the agency charged with inspecting Kentucky's amusement park rides, is investigating the accident and is expected to issue a report later this month, department spokesman Bill Clary said.


Cable tested by labs

Two independent laboratories agreed upon by attorneys for both sides in the lawsuit have completed tests on the broken cable, but their reports reach no conclusions on what caused the cable to break.


Clary said the Agriculture Department will enlist the help of experts to interpret the data from the two labs' tests to determine why the cable failed.


However, test data from one lab, IMR Metallurgical Services of Louisville, noted cracks, rust and a lack of lubrication near the cable break, according to a copy of the report provided by the Lasitters to The Courier-Journal.


The results section of the report states: "The ends of the cable exhibited grease, but the center surrounding the fracture exhibited rust and cracks without substantial grease. The cracks were prominent near the cable fracture site. … "


Advised maintenance

Intamin, which made the Hellevator and installed it in 1995 at Kentucky Kingdom, gives instructions in the ride manual about using a rag test to inspect the cables.


The manual states that maintenance workers should check at least every six months for fractured wires by holding a cotton rag around each cable while the ride operates in maintenance, or manual, mode.


"Snagging of the rag on the cable indicates broken wires or some other significant flaw is present," according to the ride manual.


But Schmidt said in his deposition before the Lasitters' attorneys that although workers conducted twice-weekly visual inspections, "It was never brought to my attention to check those cables with a rag for snags."


He said that "short of (the cables) being off the ride, I'm not sure there is a convenient way" of performing a rag test and that some of the cables were "almost impossible to check."


The ride manual details, however, what technicians should do if they cannot access part of the cable. It states that they should operate the ride at the lower maintenance speed and access the cable where the maximum length passes through the technician's hands.


"Portions of the cable which are inaccessible by this method must be inspected manually to include the entire cable length," according to the manual.


Schmidt, who said he oversaw all ride technicians in the park at the time of the accident and ordered replacement cables for the Hellevator, said park technicians also used a micrometer to check the diameter of the cable to make sure it had not stretched beyond specifications, another indicator of wear.


He said that Intamin representative Sandor Kernacs told him to check the cables with a micrometer, and "never by the rag test."


Calls to Intamin representatives in Maryland were not returned.


Schmidt also said he contacted state elevator inspector Mike Mudd, who inspects the park's elevators on its handicapped-accessible rides, about how to properly inspect the cables, telling Mudd that he was checking them with a micrometer.


"He said, you know, that sounds like you're doing the correct thing, that's how we inspect elevators," Schmidt said.


Asked by the Lasitters' attorneys how often Kentucky Kingdom technicians replaced cables on the Hellevator, Schmidt said: "According to the manufacturer's specifications, when you find any broken wires."


Lubrication method

As part of a monthly inspection, the ride manual recommends lubricating the cables once a month with oil and cleaning them if necessary.


Lasitter attorney Larry Franklin asked Schmidt in his deposition if the ride's cables had been lubricated.


"Not by a person, no," Schmidt responded.


"How are they lubricated externally, if they are?" Franklin asked.


"Because we have to apply a lubrication to the rails that the car slides up and down on," Schmidt said, grease "ends up on the cable."


High winds, Schmidt added, can also cause the cables to blow into the tower, hitting the greasy rails and causing the cables to pick up grease.


Schmidt said there was so much oil on the cables, in fact, that park technicians used cornstarch to help dry them, a practice not mentioned in the ride manual.


"We had a problem with cable slippage -- a cable slipping on the drum because there was always too much lubrication on the cables.


"So a way to dry that off the cable was to use cornstarch," said Schmidt, adding that "the idea came out of Paramount's Great American California park," which had similar problems with slipping cables.


Maintenance logs from Kentucky Kingdom, provided by the Lasitters, show that technicians applied cornstarch at least seven times between June 2004 and July 2006.


No trial date has been set in the lawsuit.


Reporter Charlie White can be reached at (502) 582-4653.

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You'd think after working on a ride for 10 years, if the cables don't seem to have any wear and tear, it just might be a good idea to replace them anyway...just in case.


However, I think the ride should be designed to avoid any "cable entanglements" with riders just as a precaution in case they do snap. Sounds like maybe Intamin didn't take that into consideration...

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That sounds like some very damning evidence. It's a scary thought that a park would stray that far from what is needed to keep these rides safe. I'll be very curious to see if this park suffers some longer lasting reductions in attendance this season. With news like this out there that a park isn't performing the inspections correctly (because it's now easy to assume that other rides have also been neglected) I'm sure a lot of people will think twice before a visit.

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What is upsetting about parks side stepping like this, is it gives the entire industry a bad name. It makes these rides look far more dangerous then they really are. To be fair, skirting inspection as it appears might have happened here DO make thrill rides more dangerous then the need to actually be. I'm very interested in who is going to be found at fault, but if the testimony posted above is true, it looks like Six Flags dropped the ball on this one.

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And people wonder why legislators have to step in...Man am I glad California holds parks to the manufacturers guidelines!


It's really disturbing the head of the maintenance department wouldn't even know what is specified in the SOP...

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Man am I glad California holds parks to the manufacturers guidelines!


Yet, from the article:

"So a way to dry that off the cable was to use cornstarch," said Schmidt, adding that "the idea came out of Paramount's Great American California park," which had similar problems with slipping cables.


So are rides in California really subject to the manufacturer's guidelines, or not? This entire incident is disturbing on a number of levels.

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^^California does audits twice a year (one announced visit, and one unannounced visit), plus requires a third party certification as well. They look at the SOP's and make sure everything is being done by the book (they watch both the ride operators and check the training logs and maintenance records to see if the required work and training is being done). It goes a long way in keeping the parks honest, since no park wants the bad PR/their ride shut down/etc...


Besides, without knowing all the information, it's hard to say for sure CGA broke any rules.

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And people wonder why legislators have to step in...Man am I glad California holds parks to the manufacturers guidelines!


It's really disturbing the head of the maintenance department wouldn't even know what is specified in the SOP...


Well apparently, those in the SFKK PR department know more about maintaining the rides than do their own ride maintenance manager:



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  • 5 weeks later...

I feel sorry for the girl that lost her feet, and while I wouldn't mind government regulation of rides, I'm going to be extremely upset if they go overboard. While I don't think this will happen, I fear that this safety thing will be taken to a level that is not necessary.

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You know, I'm all for better safety standards and all, but this interview seems like overkill and what really makes theme parks "seem" unsafe and gives the GP the wrong impressions. I feel very sorry for the girl. But seriously, you know going into a theme park, that you are riding on engineered devices that constantly push the limits.


If there was suddenly a rush of elevator cables snapping and elevators plummeting in skyscrapers, would we be having these same types of things happening? It seems like they are using the girl and her injury as a jump start to accomplish their own goals.


Yes, she got hurt and that's horrible, should it have happened? No, but will it happen again, yes, probably. There is no way to prevent accidents from happening, hence the name accidents. It just bugs me in this sue happy country that things like this get so blown out of proportion. You are at risk anytime you go anywhere of getting hurt or losing your life. That's called life.


Not to be a downer, but just seems like they are completely blowing it out of proportion and this Senator or whoever is writing this new bill is using this little girl's injury to jump start his career and gets his name recognized.

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^^Exactly, and they gave the impression that rides are unsafe, and that there is a good chance of a similar thing happening to you next time you ride. The interview is going to scare the GP-making them want the bill-, and the amusement industry might suffer if the bill takes things too far.


I think I can speak for everyone when I saw we want the rides to be as safe as possible, and I have nothing wrong with the government making sure of this. However, this was a freak accident, and while it might have been preventable, these freak accidents will happen no matter what. Slightly off topic, but with all those who die because they act like idiots or ride with medical conditions on these rides will probably make the regulations even stricter. The sad part about that is because it is the rider's fault and not the ride's, but this bill won't recognize that. I see this bill and what comes out of it as blaming the park/ride/ride manufacturer for every accident there is.


People go to parks to have fun, and with this bill, I just see the rides not being able to do that as well. Yes I want to be safe when I ride, but I want to also have fun and be thrilled. Maybe this won't be as bad as I fear, but I think that this safety bill will go overboard for a few years.


Yes this was a tragic accident due to no fault of the rider, but it was an accident that had never happened before and probable never will again. Sure the family deserves compensation, but this thing is going to far. These rides are inspected frequently by the state(right?), and amusement rides are extremely safe assuming you don't do something stupid. There are many far more dangerous recreation options than going to an amusement park, and your more likely to be in a car accident than be hurt on a ride due to a ride malfunction. Sure a little more regulation won't hurt, but I'm going to be very upset when seat belts are required on all water/flat rides, heavy trims on coasters, and over extensive restraints on all coasters.

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