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Assembly Panel OKs Theme Park Regulation

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Regional
Review / DEVELOPMENTS IN ORANGE, RIVERSIDE, SAN BERNARDINO
AND VENTURA COUNTIES

May 13, 1999

One of two bills that would bring unprecedented state regulation to California theme parks won overwhelming approval Wednesday by an Assembly committee that heard from supporters in Sacramento, including a mother whose son was injured in a Disneyland accident.

The bill by Assemblyman Tom Torlakson (D-Antioch) calls for mandatory reporting of accidents and state inspections of all permanent rides every four years. The bill passed on an 8-1 vote of the Labor and Employment Committee and now heads to the Appropriations Committee.

Supporters included a children's consumer advocate, a retired ride inspector, a Disney union workers' representative and the state firefighters association. Two soft-spoken mothers told upsetting personal stories.

Victoria Nelson, whose only child, Quimby Ghilotti, 18, died two years ago in an accident at Waterworld USA in Concord, beseeched the committee: "Please don't let this happen to another child."

Kathy Fackler of La Jolla, with her son David, 6, nestled on her lap, testified about the Disneyland accident that cost him the toes on one foot. She said the park rebuffed the family's efforts to correct the condition that caused the accident on the Big Thunder Mountain ride.

"Accidents should be treated as [hard-learned] lessons, not secrets to be hidden away," Fackler said.

She displayed an Anaheim police log that showed 1,000 emergency calls, 97 of them trauma-related, from Disneyland last year.

In rare testimony by Disney, lobbyist Terri Thomas said the bill needed work to better define the injuries that would have to be reported and to limit "overlapping levels of inspection."

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