How to keep you and your family free from amusement park injuries

During the warm summer months, many families will attend outdoor carnivals, amusement parks, and even Colorado’s famed State Fair. Our state boasts more than 30 different amusement and theme parks, many of the best located right around Denver. While these parks can be a ton of fun, they can often end up in accidents and personal injuries. In 2014, a teen at the Colorado State Far was seriously injured on the “Sky Fire”, which malfunctioned in mid-air, forcing 15-year-old Matt Landin to brace himself to keep from being thrown off the looping ride.

“As soon as we went upside down the first time, the harness snapped up,” said Landin. “I felt my shoulder separate and felt it pop.” Landin reportedly tore several shoulder muscles in the accident.

Landin and his family have called for more safety precautions. While Colorado amusement park rides are regulated by the state Division of Oil and Public Safety, unlike many other states, Colorado does not require that government officials perform the safety inspections. Instead, owners are required to have their rides inspected annually by a National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Official, the non-profit organization that administers amusement inspector certifications. However, on rides like the one injuring Landin, the state requires daily inspections of mobile amusement rides.

Crabtree Amusements, the owner of the Sky Fire, has an unfortunate history of amusement park ride injuries. At a Wyoming fair, a 16 year old girl was seriously injured after hitting her head in a bungee jumping accident in 2014. In 2012, a woman was thrown off a Tilt-a-Whirl ride at the Louisiana State Fair, fracturing her hip and spine. And in 2005, a nine-year-old girl died after falling from a Crabtree-owned ride called “The Sizzler” in Austin, Texas.

Every year, an estimated 8,000 children suffer injuries from amusement park or carnival-type rides that require treatment in an emergency room. These injuries involve fixed rides, mobile rides, inflatables and other types of rides at amusement parks, festivals, traveling carnivals and other locations.

Safe Kids Colorado and Children’s Hospital Colorado have teamed up to offer parents, and all riders, these helpful tips for making rides safer for everyone:

  • Always use the safety equipment provided. Safety belts, lap bars, chains, handrails and other safety features are there for a reason.
  • Wait until the ride comes to a complete stop before getting off. Also, if a ride stops due to a mechanical problem or safety concern, stay seated and wait for instructions.
  • Note the limitations of safety devices. Lap bars and chains are not physical restraints, their main function is to remind the occupant to stay seated. If a small child sits next to a large adult, a lap bar might not offer the child much protection so make sure the ride is appropriate for them. 
  • Trust your instincts. If a ride looks like it is poorly maintained or an operator seems to be inattentive, stay away.

If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, contact a knowledgeable Colorado personal injury lawyer who can evaluate your case and help get you the recovery you deserve.