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Top Thrill Dragster Incident


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https://www.wxyz.com/news/local-news/inspectors-say-l-shaped-bracket-from-top-thrill-dragster-dislodged-near-end-of-ride-struck-woman

ODA inspectors released a lot of info today.

The injured is a 44-yo woman from Michigan, who was indeed struck in the head by a piece of the ride.  She was transported (LifeFlight) from FRMC to St. Vincent's Hospital in Toledo, which has a Trauma Recovery Center.

It seems it indeed was the L-bracket that was photographed previously, or a similar piece.  The park does indeed have the part in question.  Some of the bolts that held it in place were missing; others were still in place.  Sounds like it's related to the control system's proximity switches.

Whatever happened managed to mangle the track a bit in the process.

The investigation into how this occurred is ongoing.

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1 hour ago, jsus said:

Additional info has been released regarding the injured woman's present condition:

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Miran said they did not have an update on the condition of the woman but has been in contact with her family, updating them on the status of their investigation.

“We are devastated by last weekend’s accident at Cedar Point,” the woman's family said in a statement provided to ABC 12. “We want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers during this time. [She] is fighting for her life, and we would ask for privacy in this difficult time.”

 

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21 minutes ago, Thabto said:

You keep posting similar updates seconds after me.  Are you watching me? :)

10 minutes ago, disco2000 said:

^This article also says her name...

Now the nurses report can be tied back to a person...

Yup, as expected.  Not cool.

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Now that the age, victim's current location, hometown, and brief medical condition have been released, it certainly obsolves the PCN that has received much unnecessary hatred for trying to do the right thing and posting a Cedar Point incident report.

Now the concentration needs to be focused on how the "mangled" parts came to be as the catch car has been questioned on how it may have "caught" the train off-center on the launch which resulted in a part of the train getting bent and hitting the L bracket off center on the brake run.

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3 hours ago, SonofBaconator said:

He's talking about how the original TTD concept went even further back which would have meant that Gemini would have been torn down to make room.

It would be interesting to see information on this concept.

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1 hour ago, Browntggrr said:

Now that the age, victim's current location, hometown, and brief medical condition have been released, it certainly obsolves the PCN that has received much unnecessary hatred for trying to do the right thing and posting a Cedar Point incident report.

Now the concentration needs to be focused on how the "mangled" parts came to be as the catch car has been questioned on how it may have "caught" the train off-center on the launch which resulted in a part of the train getting bent and hitting the L bracket off center on the brake run.

Or it now makes it a HIPAA violation as it now allows that report to be tied to a particular person, but you have adamantly posted that you clearly disagree with that opinion, which is shared by many medical professionals here and elsewhere that have commented on her report...I guess time will tell if she loses her license.  And if she does, we know you will not agree with it...

Remember, with a professional license, one can violate a condition of that license and lose said license, even if the violation isn't a HIPAA violation.

From the Ohio Board of Nursing:  

Merely removing someone’s name (or face, in the
instance of images) from a communication does not necessarily
protect that person’s identity.
Under federal law (HIPAA),
protected “individually identifiable information” includes health
information that identifies the individual or can reasonably be used
to identify the individual, in any form (oral, written, or otherwise)
that relates to the past, present, or future physical or mental health
of an individual

"A nurse licensed in Ohio who is determined by the OBN to have failed to comply with any of these rules based on the improper use of social media, texting, emailing, or any other form of communication is subject to disciplinary action by the OBN. The use of social media carries with it much responsibility.  Please be aware of your responsibilities and professional obligations and how its use may impact you.

In addition to it being a condition of the license, it is in the Ohio Administrative Code - Rule 4723-4-06 | Standards of nursing practice promoting patient safety:

(Q) For purposes of paragraphs (I), (J), (K), (L), and (M) of this rule, a nurse shall not use social media, texting, emailing, or other forms of communication with, or about a patient, for non-health care purposes or for purposes other than fulfilling the nurse's assigned job responsibilities.

Given the national headlines this accident made, I think most will agree that her report can be reasonably used to identify the individual and tie it back to her now that her name is made public...in addition to being a violation of the social media policy for a nursing license.

But let's move forward and let the Licensing Board debate and act on this one. 

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It took 8 whole days for the media to find out a) her name, and b) she got hit in the head and is fighting for her life. Was that really worth them bending the park over a barrel for not releasing information? Maybe give the family a few days---dare a week---to collect themselves?

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Whatever the outcome for this ride, the story will continue on for years.

I love this ride and have hope that it will be improved.  But if this is an indication that TTD has reached the end of service life, so be it.  I  got several rides on it (never a roll back though).  It would open prime real estate and things never stay the same forever.  If you say that about The Beast, I will fight you.  I said what I said. ;)

 

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30 minutes ago, BeeastFarmer said:

Whatever the outcome for this ride, the story will continue on for years.

I love this ride and have hope that it will be improved.  But if this is an indication that TTD has reached the end of service life, so be it.  I  got several rides on it (never a roll back though).  It would open prime real estate and things never stay the same forever.  If you say that about The Beast, I will fight you.  I said what I said. ;)

 

I read on the internet that they were going to RMC The Beast :P

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Update on the girl hit with sensor plate and inspection findings

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/08/24/cedar-point-accident-top-thrill-dragster-woman-injured-update/5570033001/
 

Just my opinion but with three separate injury incidents (2004, 2016, and now 2021) unlikely to reopen for 2022 season as well and may even be destined for removal (all depending upon any lawsuits and/or trials)


 

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1 hour ago, Winterfestguy said:

Just my opinion but with three separate injury incidents (2004, 2016, and now 2021) unlikely to reopen for 2022 season as well and may even be destined for removal (all depending upon any lawsuits and/or trials)

I could see them attempt to "modify" the coaster before they would think about removing it. Red Force has LSMs so that might be an option Cedar Point could explore. Something is going to have to change to this ride. I know there were cable issues in 04 and 16, and while the launch wasn't directly the cause of the 2021 incident, it might be a safe bet that the ride's intense acceleration and immediate declaration might compromise certain parts over time.

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Just from a wear and tear point of view, an LSM launch like on Red Force, seems like it would result in less moving parts that need to be inspected and could wear out.  I wonder what the cost of operating LSM verse the hydraulic launch is on TTD.  Not to mention the conversion costs.

 

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5 minutes ago, CoastersRZ said:

Just from a wear and tear point of view, an LSM launch like on Red Force, seems like it would result in less moving parts that need to be inspected and could wear out.  I wonder what the cost of operating LSM verse the hydraulic launch is on TTD.  Not to mention the conversion costs.

 

the technology is not there to launch it over the top hat with lsms in the current amount of space 

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Xcelerator remains open, to say nothing of Storm Runner and Kingda Ka. I think it's pretty clear at this point that this was a maintenance related failure, and not something necessitating (for any reason other than public perception) a complete overhaul of one hydraulic launch coasters launch mechanism, while the others all around the world continue to operate unchanged. 

Xcelerator is older, (the prototype for this kind of ride) operates at year round location and Knotts is a Cedar Fair park. Still operating. 

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Or it is apparent that an outside influence caused the problem and they are not elaborating on it at this time for a variety of reasons? 

At the speed TTD travels, one would be surprised how little or lightweight of an object can cause serious damage.  Heck, I had my drivers side headlights/turn signals, and quarter panel ripped off my car from simply being hit by a small weightless piece of Styrofoam insulation that blew off a truck in front of me and was bouncing around I-71 in a non-linear fashion (and thus couldn't avoid it) because it had no mass to it.  And of course many of us will remember the Space Shuttle Challenger that was damaged due to what people thought was a nothing piece of insulation that ended up busting a hole in the wing and caused the shuttle to disintegrate upon re-entry.

Many of us may recall back in 2014 that the Ninja (Six Flags Magic Mountain) roller coaster, an Arrow suspended coaster like our Top Gun/Flight Deck/The Bat experienced a partial derail when a tree branch broke and landed on the track, and it did not result in the temporary closure of similar rides.  Now one may argue that a tree branch landing on the track is a result of poor maintenance, but that is another story.  This could very well be the case why similar coasters did not close after the TTD incident.

It is all speculation at this point, but to quickly jump on maintenance and being an internet jury without knowing all the facts is speculation.

Personally, I thought when Tony Clark came out hours after the accident and said it was due to a part that came off the train and squarely put the blame (intentional or not) on CP, it was either an error of judgement due to shock or it was obvious that something caused that to happen beyond the control of CP.  Either way, I am sure the CP attorneys are working overtime trying to deal with the ramifications of his wording and have probably already wrote an SOP for marketing in the next accident to say something like "An accident occurred and a guest was injured.  We are still investigating the cause at this time and thus have nothing further to say about the incident until the investigation is wrapped up."

For all the heat that CP has been getting for "lack of transparency", one could argue that Tony's initial statement was very transparent and not the kind of statement most would make that quickly after an accident.  I am sure his statement is probably what caused the even tighter lips from CP based on the advice of their attorneys.

The cause will come out in due time and probably sooner than later.

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After seeing a photo of the bracket and having seen where and how it’s believed to attach to the train on pointbuzz, I have an idea on what might have happened.

Brackets like that are used to trigger proximity sensors.  These types of sensors do not require contact and should never touch the item triggering them.  Except you can clearly see scrape marks where it was rubbing against something.  It would not take a lot of cycles to cause that though.  But it suggests the plate had moved or sensors were out of position.
 

I suspect the issue was with a bolt holding this bracket on this train.  I really do not like the plates attachment method.  Using two screws means you have a single point of failure.  If one screw backs out, breaks, etc the plate suddenly has nothing preventing rotation.  Even a slight movement of the plate will cause it to impact other parts of the ride and will likely cause other damage for instance the bracket breaking free.  There really should have been 3 screws.  This way in the event something does happen to one, maintenance at least has a chance to catch the problem before it becomes catastrophic.

You can clearing see scrape marks where it was rubbing against something while the ride was in motion.  My guess is something happened to one bolt, allowing the bracket to move.  At first the motion was likely minimal and it just rubbed against items during the ride cycle.  Then a few cycles later the bracket moved enough it struck something, and you can see a dent, causing the other bolt to break and the piece of steel came completely free and unfortunately it struck a guest.

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13 minutes ago, Kenban said:

After seeing a photo of the bracket and having seen where and how it’s believed to attach to the train on pointbuzz, I have an idea on what might have happened.

Brackets like that are used to trigger proximity sensors.  These types of sensors do not require contact and should never touch the item triggering them.  Except you can clearly see scrape marks where it was rubbing against something.  It would not take a lot of cycles to cause that though.  But it suggests the plate had moved or sensors were out of position.
 

I suspect the issue was with a bolt holding this bracket on this train.  I really do not like the plates attachment method.  Using two screws means you have a single point of failure.  If one screw backs out, breaks, etc the plate suddenly has nothing preventing rotation.  Even a slight movement of the plate will cause it to impact other parts of the ride and will likely cause other damage for instance the bracket breaking free.  There really should have been 3 screws.  This way in the event something does happen to one, maintenance at least has a chance to catch the problem before it becomes catastrophic.

You can clearing see scrape marks where it was rubbing against something while the ride was in motion.  My guess is something happened to one bolt, allowing the bracket to move.  At first the motion was likely minimal and it just rubbed against items during the ride cycle.  Then a few cycles later the bracket moved enough it struck something, and you can see a dent, causing the other bolt to break and the piece of steel came completely free and unfortunately it struck a guest.

It's pretty clear from what the ODA inspectors have released that something did make contact with the track itself.  We also know that it's a rather small area - in the realm of 25' - of track impacted.  They didn't specify the exact location but it sounds like the plate came loose right around the finish line, as green train was headed into the static (fixed, not retracting) brake fins.  From all the information, it seems that either one or both bolts/screws failed, causing the L-shaped flag plate to come loose.

We don't know the exact speed at the point the plate came loose but the train was probably still around 100 mph.  At that speed, (yes, it's slowing down, but let's ignore that for simplicity), the train would cover about 150 ft / second.  25' of track damage sounds like one or both screws/bolts came loose, causing the plate in question to lower slightly, likely rotating around one fastener.  It hit the track for a split second before becoming a projectile toward the queue.

That's just speculation based on all of the information that has been released so far, of course.

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3 minutes ago, Kenban said:

After seeing a photo of the bracket and having seen where and how it’s believed to attach to the train on pointbuzz, I have an idea on what might have happened.

Brackets like that are used to trigger proximity sensors.  These types of sensors do not require contact and should never touch the item triggering them.  Except you can clearly see scrape marks where it was rubbing against something.  It would not take a lot of cycles to cause that though.  But it suggests the plate had moved or sensors were out of position.
 

I suspect the issue was with a bolt holding this bracket on this train.  I really do not like the plates attachment method.  Using two screws means you have a single point of failure.  If one screw backs out, breaks, etc the plate suddenly has nothing preventing rotation.  Even a slight movement of the plate will cause it to impact other parts of the ride and will likely cause other damage for instance the bracket breaking free.  There really should have been 3 screws.  This way in the event something does happen to one, maintenance at least has a chance to catch the problem before it becomes catastrophic.

You can clearing see scrape marks where it was rubbing against something while the ride was in motion.  My guess is something happened to one bolt, allowing the bracket to move.  At first the motion was likely minimal and it just rubbed against items during the ride cycle.  Then a few cycles later the bracket moved enough it struck something, and you can see a dent, causing the other bolt to break and the piece of steel came completely free and unfortunately it struck a guest.

It will very interesting to see the final investigation from ODA.

Some of my thoughts:

I have dealt with L brackets with flat head cap screws and prox switches.  The L bracket is simply a piece of angle iron.  The flat head cap screw typically have a hex opening to have the screw end go into a threaded opening.  The prox switches are very lightweight so they can be easily moved and many simple piece of plastic covering over the "sensor" part.  This plastic covering has zero strength to it and can be easily snapped off using a couple fingers (these prox switches are part of the reason TTD is down often).

Knowing how the bracket works with the switches if it was loosening over time, the prox switches would have likely not sensed the bracket shutting the ride down well before the accident.  It's difficult to see the c'sinks 100% but there does not appear to be many dings/ dents on the c'sinks themselves- if there were it would suggest the L bracket was loose for a good amount of time and the screws were loosening up as the bracket would have been banging between the train & angled underside of the FHCS. 

The bend suggest bracket took one big jolt shearing off the FHCS.  The previous press release from ODA did say there were half the bolts came off (the other halves would have been still threaded in the train). 

When the final report of the accident comes out, it will be interesting to see where damaged track is located- was it only on the brake run or did something cause the train to be misaligned on the launch side just enough to have the L bracket come in contact with an object moving the bracket to the point where one of the FHCS sheared off the launch and the other FHCS sheared off on the brake run that damaged more of the track & brake fins.

Or I'm totally overthinking this and the FHCS were over-torqued from the start and finally the head failed due to constant vibration of the train being used (remember the wheel theming that came off on the brake run in 2003 that ended up in the water near ID?).

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Sandusky Register: Is Cedar Point Above The Law?

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The park's general manager, Carrie Boldman, hung up when a reporter called her. Calls to Jason McClure, Cedar Fair's corporate vice president for park operations, went immediately to voicemail. Boldman and McClure have not responded to written requests to them asking that the park comply with the law.

 

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