Do not wiggle out of a roller coaster.
(23 August 1999, Virginia) A New York student was killed Monday while riding in a stand-up roller coaster called Shockwave at Paramount Kings Dominion amusement park just north of Richmond. A spokeswoman for the park said that although the rider was not in the train when it returned to the station, the restraint system had not failed, nor was human error a factor. Rider misconduct was suspected.
The 2-minute Shockwave coaster carries passengers through a loop, a side spiral, and an inverted loop. Passengers straddle a bicycle-style seat, with their feet firmly on the platform.
An investigation revealed that the youth had engineered his own death by wriggling out of the harness so he could raise his hands in the air. During the first loop, his unrestrained body was thrown from the car to a catwalk, were they found him dead from a massive head wound.
Do not duck under a roller coaster.
(1998, California) Tales of roller-coaster accidents are the stuff of nightmares. It turns out that such tragedies are less common than folklore would have us believe. In “The Science of Roller Coasters,” Ted Oehmke reveals that there have been “only 42 such deaths in the last 11 years.”
It is tempting to dwell upon whether the number 42 is a coincidence, or just exceedingly improbable. At any rate, such a fate was suffered by one particularly unfortunate middle-aged gentleman on the Top Gun coaster at Great America.
The recipient of this Darwin Award lost his red baseball cap on the ride. It flew into an area under the coaster. As if the danger of ground directly beneath a speeding roller coaster was not self-evident, there were prominent “Restricted Area” signs every fifty feet. After exiting the platform, the man ignored both common sense and warning signs. He climbed two fences to retrieve his hat, only to be killed instantly when a passenger’s foot kicked his neck.
The woman broke her leg and lost her shoe, and is suing for damages.