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Six Flags shuts ride at four parks after accident

Free-fall attractions are closed around U.S. after a girl's feet are severed.

June 23, 2007|From Times Wire Services

Six Flags Inc., the second-biggest U.S. theme-park operator, closed a free-fall ride at four of its parks after a cable snapped on the attraction at its Louisville, Ky., park and severed the feet of a 13-year-old girl.

Cedar Fair, operator of amusement parks including Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, said it temporarily shut down five similar rides at its locations.

Rides at Knott's Berry Farm and Six Flags' Magic Mountain in Valencia were not affected.

Intamin, a Swiss company, made all the rides that were closed by both companies, Craig Ross, a spokesman for Cedar Fair, told the Associated Press.

"We're going to keep these things down until we're certain it's safe," Ross said. "We'll wait and see."

Intamin made the rides but did not supply all the parts, said Sandor Kernacs, president of the company's American operations, Intamin Ltd. in Glen Burnie, Md.

The accident occurred Thursday at the Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom park, the company said in an e-mailed statement. The girl was taken to a hospital, Six Flags said, without elaborating.

On Friday, the company shut down the Superman Tower of Power ride in Louisville and three other parks until an investigation into the accident is completed.

"We have had no issues with any of those rides. As with Kentucky Kingdom, millions of people have safely ridden this ride," spokeswoman Wendy Goldberg said.

Investigators at Kentucky's Department of Agriculture, which regulates the parks, are trying to determine why the cable snapped.

The ride, at the park since 1995, takes passengers in a car up the tower 177 feet, then they plummet, gaining a speed of 54 mph, according to Six Flags' website.

"When something like this happens, it has a ripple effect throughout the industry," Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services Inc., a Cincinnati-based consultant, told Bloomberg News. "It's a very sad day. Nobody wants anybody hurt."

Shares of Six Flags, based in New York, fell 25 cents to $6.26. Before Friday, the shares had risen 24% this year.

There are 20 to 25 similar types of rides worldwide, Speigel estimated. After an accident, there's a small decrease in attendance to parks, he said.

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