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Boy Who Died at Disney Had Heart Defect

July 01, 2006|From the Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. — The 12-year-old boy who died after riding a Walt Disney World roller coaster had a congenital heart defect, medical examiners found in an autopsy Friday.

The body of Michael Russell, the son of an Iraq war veteran, was autopsied one day after the boy stopped breathing while riding Disney-MGM's Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. More tests will be conducted to determine the cause of death, said Dr. Sara H. Irrgang, an Orange County associate medical examiner.

"No evidence of injury was found, but congenital heart abnormalities were detected, which will be further evaluated," the office said in a statement.

Disney World reopened the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster on Friday after theme park inspectors found no mechanical problems. A state inspector monitored the examination. "Walt Disney World engineers and ride system experts ... found it to be operating properly," the company said in a statement.

The Rock 'n' Roller Coaster debuted in 1999 and has had 36.6 million riders, according to Disney. No other fatalities have been reported on the ride.

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