Some passengers who were riding a Florida roller coaster when it derailed last week could have lifelong injuries, an attorney for three of the nine riders who were hospitalized said Monday.
The riders suffered broken bones, concussions and possible nerve damage when the Sand Blaster roller coaster derailed last Thursday, Matt Morgan, an Orlando-based attorney, said at a news conference.
Two riders fell 34 feet (10 meters) and eight others had to be pulled to safety high above the Daytona Beach Board. Nine riders in total were taken to the hospital.
“Our clients came to Daytona Beach with healthy bodies, looking forward to their summer vacation,” Morgan said. “They will leave Daytona Beach with broken bones and using walkers. Many of them had their lives changed.”
Morgan’s clients will contemplate a lawsuit if the ride’s insurance companies fight paying them, he said. Morgan has hired ride-safety experts to evaluate what went wrong.
Ride safety experts will dig through maintenance records, inspection records, study the history of the ride, how it was manufactured and also try to find out why restraints didn’t keep the two passengers from falling to the ground, said Bill Avery, one of the ride-safety experts.
“It’s kind of premature to come up with a final root cause,” Avery said. “One of the things we know, being on the coast, right next to the water with salt air, corrosion is an ongoing problem for anyone who operates under those conditions.”
A month before the derailment, a state inspector had found problems with the ride, and the roller coaster was ordered to be taken out of service. State inspection reports show that an inspector last month found excessive corrosion, a damaged seat, and a crack in the track. Those problems, though, were corrected by the time of a follow-up inspection Thursday, according to the reports. The ride also was shut down last year because of problems found during inspections.
Morgan’s clients all come from Kentucky and were visiting Daytona Beach as part of a work trip.
They include Amanda Bostic, one of two riders who fell. They also include a rider who was forced to hang from the ride until being rescued.
“As the ride started it was shaky. It didn’t feel as stable as other rides we had been on,” Bostic told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday. “As we went around the turn, it felt like it wasn’t completely attached to those tracks.”
Bostic said she heard screeching and soon felt like she was falling.
“Then the next thing I remember is coming to on the ground,” she said.
Morgan said Bostic “bounced like a ping pong ball” in between the railings of the roller coaster.
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