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Disneyland, Ride Victim's Family Settle : Woman Died in Matterhorn Accident; Trial Was Ready to Begin

March 16, 1988|JESS BRAVIN | Times Staff Writer

The family of a woman who died when she fell from her seat on Disneyland's Matterhorn ride and was struck by an oncoming car agreed to a settlement Tuesday, just as jury selection in the suit was to begin.

The family of Regena Young of Fremont had sued the park in Orange County Superior Court for $5 million after her death four years ago.

Terms Kept Secret

Under the agreement, terms of the settlement will remain secret, and the attorneys and parties in the case are barred from discussing it, a court clerk said.

Disneyland attorney Richard E. McCain of Santa Ana would not discuss the case except to say the morning's discussions had been "fruitful." Richard L. Bowers, attorney for the Young family, could not be reached for comment.

Disneyland spokesman Bob Roth said the lawsuit was settled "to the satisfaction of the Walt Disney Co." but would not elaborate.

The suit was filed by the victim's estranged husband, John L. Young of Campbell, and her two adult sons, Derrick and Dale.

According to court papers, the family had planned to introduce photographs of the victim and the bloody accident site in the trial and had sought permission from the judge to inspect the Matterhorn cars for safety defects.

Belt Unfastened

In legal filings, the Youngs had argued that Disneyland was negligent in the 48-year-old woman's death because its employees had failed to ensure that her seat belt was properly fastened.

Regena Young's seat belt was found to be unfastened after the accident.

Roth said that after the accident, the park had changed the type of seat belts employed on the ride. He said the change "has nothing to do with this case" but was prompted because the previous supplier of seat belts had gone out of business.

Before the accident, the park used belts that employed a "friction fastener where you slide the belt through the buckle, and the buckle closes on it," Roth said.

The ride now uses the snap-in buckle type of seat belt, similar to those found in automobiles, he added.

The Matterhorn, which opened in 1959, is a smaller version of the Swiss mountain of the same name, laced inside and out by a roller-coaster track. The ride seeks to simulate the sport of bobsledding and was conceived by the late Walt Disney, the park's founder, Roth said.

The ride carries about 5 million people a year, Roth said, and "has a terrific safety record." He said he could not recall any other injuries on the ride, except for the death of a passenger in 1964. The man stood up while the ride was in motion and struck his head, Roth said.

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