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3 Hurled to Death in Canada as Roller Coaster Derails in Mall

June 16, 1986|From Times Wire Services

EDMONTON, Canada — The last car on a triple-loop roller coaster derailed inside a shopping mall, flinging three people to their deaths, police said Sunday.

Police spokeswoman Joy-Lynn Dorash said 12 people were riding a multicar train on the roller coaster at West Edmonton Mall late Saturday night when the wheels of the rear car came off the tracks and three passengers were thrown out.

Nineteen people were seriously injured in the mishap, which occurred when the roller coaster cars were traveling about 60 m.p.h. Those killed were believed to be two men and a woman, but their identities were being withheld.

The $6-million "Mindbender" ride, billed as the world's largest indoor shopping and entertainment complex, opened in the 700-store mall in March and was declared safe the day before the accident by an Alberta province safety inspector.

Kurt Andraszak, an Edmonton resident who witnessed the accident, said the car came off the rails while upside down in one of the roller coaster's loops. He said the victims were thrown against a pole and then fell about 25 feet to the floor.

Andraszak said mall security personnel rushed to evacuate the area and locked the park after the accident.

Mall spokesmen refused comment, and mall employees were manning all outdoor exits to the park, threatening to charge onlookers with trespassing unless they cleared the area.

Several witnesses said the ride had been closed for about 30 minutes before the accident.

"They were working on the yellow cars," one witness said. "I saw a technician working on them."

The Mindbender had been investigated in April after some passengers complained of sore necks and shoulders after their ride.

Alberta Labor Minister Ian Reid, whose department handles safety inspections, said it is possible that the attraction will not be reopened. If it is ever operated again, he said, it will have to be "tested and tested and tested."

The roller coaster is one of the attractions of Fantasyland Park, a popular evening gathering spot for Edmonton residents.

The West German manufacturer of the roller coaster has 100 similar rides operating around the world, most of them in Europe.

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