Jump to content
KIghostguy

Clearing up Tower Johnny

Recommended Posts

UPDATE 4/2018: I wrote the following in Sept. 2015. What follows is almost entirely wrong. The full, updated and complete story is at: http://kingsislandghosts.blogspot.com/2018/04/the-truth-behind-tower-johnny.html 

Hello everyone! One of the most persistent Kings Island ghost stories is "Tower Johnny". There are many urban legends about him, but I have come to clear up the truth. First, there are multiple urban legends about how he died. Here is what happened, according to newspaper articles that reported the incident. On May 13, 1983, 17 year old John Harter, of Delaware, Ohio, was visiting Kings Island for one of it's annual Grad Nights. Harter, as well as other students of Delaware Hayes High School, was set to graduate June 5. His birthday was May 27. Anyways, he had indeed been drinking that fateful night. Whether he smuggled it into the park, or drank before entering isn't known. Harter rode some rides that night with his friends, as well as his girlfriend, Pam Donley. However, he became separated from his friends. At about 10:15 p.m., John made his way up to the 50 foot platform of the Eiffel Tower and then proceeded to climb a five and a half foot fence onto the interior emergency stairwell. Investigators believe he climbed up a bit, then climbed onto a beam near the elevator shaft. While standing there, however, he was hit by the counterweight instead, lost his balance, and plunged 50-60 feet onto the top of the rising elevator. The impact killed him instantly. He was not decapitated during the fall, the Warren County Coroner was quoted as saying in the Columbus Dispatch as saying that the cause of death was "skull fractures and several broken bones". His girlfriend and friends were walking around the Tower base looking for him when he fell, although they did not see him fall. The Tower was closed the rest of Grad Night, and was closed the next couple days while police investigated. He was buried the following Wednesday in Oak Grove Cemetery in Delaware, Ohio. I recently accidentally ran into a woman who was best friends with Pam Donley. She reported that the three of them, the woman, Pam, and John, had all rented out a car and were renting a hotel room together near the park. She was at Kings Island the night John was killed. She said that John was a very kind and smart young man. I have photos of when I visited his grave as well as photos from the Hayes 1983 yearbook. If anyone can tell me how to post these, thanks, as this is my first KI Central post. I'm sure that you all are familiar with the ghost stories (security called to Tower by employees working late who see a boy in 1980's style clothing walking on the top platform, elevators moving by themselves, etc.) No matter how careless John was, this was still a very sad and tragic accident. Just thought you all would find this interesting.

-Ghost Guy

EDIT: The photos are included in a post below.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't describe the depth of this thread. To put the real face on the human being whose tragic death has been for so many years passed around as an ever-changing ghost story, restores a great deal of respect, and de-sensationalizes myth with facts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to KiC and thank you for such a moving/informative/thought provoking first couple of posts.

TB is right. You forget that this ghost story is actually he story of a kid and his family. So sad.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For all the people reading this post-I am so glad I can clear this up. Exaggarating and making up details on John's death really angers me, not only because it's historically inaccurate, but also because I find embellishing/making up stuff very disrespectful and rude to John's memory.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i have to wonder how many other old theme park myths could be cleared up by searching old newspapers. It's my understanding that the death that led to the closure of the original Ravine Flyer was something of a mystery until somebody found some old newspaper articles from that era on microfilm that discussed the incident. I have to wonder how many of the urban legends of the industry could be cleared up by somebody who is willing to spend the time digging and doing some research?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember this incident well.  I was in junior high school and of course rumors were rampant.  I usually think of Mr. Hartner when I go up the Tower and say a prayer for his family and friends (whoever they may be, I don't know them but I believe the one I pray to does!).  Seeing the face to the legend puts it in a great perspective.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Everyone- I am not able to link the newspaper articles, but I will transcribe them. In the meantime, here a couple more articles not from the Dispatch I sourced.  https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=799&dat=19630510&id=eZJPAAAAIBAJ&sjid=mVEDAAAAIBAJ&pg=4078,4112870&hl=en  

https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=799&dat=19830517&id=gZJPAAAAIBAJ&sjid=mVEDAAAAIBAJ&pg=1475,4232633&hl=en

https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1350&dat=19910610&id=kdQpAAAAIBAJ&sjid=JQMEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4334,2974430&hl=en

http://www.nytimes.com/1983/05/15/us/death-at-graduation-party.html

 

I took the pictures of the yearbook and grave. I will try transcribing the Dispatch articles later today.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd">

<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">

<head>

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8"/>

<title></title>

</head>

<body>

<div class="page" title="Page 2">

</div>

</body>

</html>

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd">

<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">

<head>

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8"/>

<title></title>

</head>

<body>

<div class="page" title="Page 1">

</div>

</body>

</html>

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd">

<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">

<head>

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8"/>

<title></title>

</head>

<body>

<div class="page" title="Page 2">

</div>

</body>

</html>

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd">

<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">

<head>

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8"/>

<title></title>

</head>

<body>

<div class="page" title="Page 1">

</div>

</body>

</html>

I don't know if these will do anything.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't be discouraged to summarize, in my own words, what I've read, and then provide a hyperlink to the landing page of the web site on which I read my source material. That would be the physical-world equivalent of reading a book, walking up to a group of friends and telling them my own perspective, and giving them precise directions to the library or bookstore so that they can research it for themselves. The friends can then take it upon themselves to go to that library or bookstore, agree to the terms of use that are presented there,  and and then consume the information for themselves, which leads to further enrichment of the conversation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Awesome post man. I have a love/hate obsession with folklore, ghost, strange occurences, etc., etc as they say. Sometimes I start to get too obsessive with them and start becoming too intrigued with the macabre and have to back off for periods of time. I always thought he was a local of Kings Mills or Cincy proper. Never knew he roamed up north of my own stomping grounds, Columbus. I pass through Delaware to see my parents and will definitely give him a nod and hello next time when passing through.

If you have to go...might as well leave a legacy of sorts. He is like the Elisa Lam of Kings Island.

::Last edit::

By legacy I mean in a mysterious way. In no ways any sort of violent exit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...