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Out of the Ordinary

Six Flags: A History of Fatalities

Chelsie Lacny

Six Flags New England's Batman Roller Coaster

Some of the nastiest deaths you’ll ever hear about

Six Flags theme parks are visited by millions of people every year. Accidents at the parks are not a common occurrence, and fatalities are even rarer. But they do happen. Unfortunately, a woman at Six Flags Over Texas lost her life last Friday after falling off a roller coaster. When thinking about this accident, one can’t help but be curious about some of the other accidents that have occurred at Six Flags locations over the years. I’ve compiled a list of a few of the most memorable Six Flags deaths that you won’t be likely to forget.

Six Flags Over Texas saw its first fatality in 1999. The Roaring Rapids water ride wouldn’t be too intense or life-threatening in normal circumstances, but this time one of the air bladders on the boat deflated and the boat capsized. The twelve passengers ended up underwater, and ten of them were taken to the hospital. 28-year-old Valeria Cartwright was not one of them. She drowned after being stuck underneath the overturned boat.

A man lost his life in 2002 after taking a stroll through the restricted area under the Batman: The Ride coaster at Six Flags Over Georgia. A 56-year-old employee was struck in the head by a girl’s foot and killed, and the girl suffered injuries to her feet.

Fast-forward six years, to 2008, when another death occurred as a result of the Batman ride at Six Flags Over Georgia. This one is a little nastier: a teenager was decapitated after hopping the two fences to get into the restricted area underneath Batman. He was struck by the coaster while it was traveling at 50 mph. Why, you might ask, did Asia Leeshawn Ferguson decide to wander into the restricted area? To retrieve a hat he lost while riding the coaster.

In 2004 a man flew out of a coaster at Six Flags New England. The man, Stanley Mordarsky, was severely overweight and had cerebral palsy, but he was allowed to board the ride by himself. (There are no restrictions on disabled persons as long as they are able to board the ride on their own). On the last curve of the ride he flew out of his harness and flung through the air like a Frisbee, according to a witness. He hit a rail on his way to the ground and died as a result of his injuries.

An employee of Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey was killed on a test run in 1981. He fell from the Rolling Thunder coaster, but reports later say that he failed to make use of the safety features of the ride. He also may have been in an unauthorized riding position.

Three years after the deadly test run, a fire started in the Haunted Castle amusement facility at Six Flags Great Adventure. There was no sprinkler system or escape plan in place, and there were approximately 30 people inside the structure at the time. Eight teens died from smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Lastly, while this isn’t a fatality, it is still worthy of being mentioned. In 2007, a 13-year-old girl was riding the Superman: Tower of Power ride. The ride lifts passengers 177 feet up, and then drops them in a free fall going up to 54 mph. At some point the ride malfunctioned, a cable snapped, and both the girl’s feet were chopped off by the loose cable.

This list is not an extensive one; there are plenty more accidents that have occurred over the years, all attributed to different factors. Now, before you freak out, nobody is telling you to avoid Six Flags or stay off roller coasters for the rest of your life. You’re not likely to get decapitated or fall off a coaster at any point in your life, but there are the unlucky few who die as a result of a theme park ride. Theme park rides can be fun, and millions of people would recount their visits to Six Flags theme parks with fondness. But the combination between heavy machinery and human error can sometimes be deadly.

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