Accidents at amusement parks can transform an enjoyable summer evening into a life-altering nightmare. This was the experience of several roller coaster passengers, including California-resident Connor Spitzig, who recently filed a personal injury lawsuit against a Six Flags amusement park located in Arlington, Texas.
What went wrong?
On April 10, 2022, Connor Spitzig and 11 other thrill-seekers boarded the Mr. Freeze ride at Six Flags.
Six Flags describes the expected experience on the Mr. Freeze ride as follows:
“Using cutting-edge electromagnetic technology, you’ll be launched forward from the station, hitting 0-70 miles per hour in a mind-crunching 3.8 seconds! You’ll immediately be shot into a staggering high “top hat” loop. That means while you’re hurtling up and down the 90-degree slopes of this loop, your train will twist around the track as you flip, remaining upright the whole time. Then you’re immediately hustled right into a 180-degree overbanked turn, a big, glorious arch as wide as the sky. And FREEZE has saved the best element for last: a ridiculously fast straight launch up a 236-foot tower, only to do it again backwards!”
Unfortunately, the ride malfunctioned and caught fire, trapping all 12 riders in a dark tunnel with their seats locked in place.
The riders were treated, and the fire was put out by Six Flags staff before firefighters arrived.
Connor Spitzig filed the lawsuit in Tarrant County. The lawsuit contains a transcript of a 9-1-1 call made by a rider. Here’s an excerpt:
Operator: Arlington 911 (inaudible screaming in the background)
Operator: Arlington 911, ma'am?
Rider: We're on the ride at Six Flags, Mr. Freeze. There's a fire, and we're trapped.
Operator: Okay, where's the fire at?
Rider: At Six Flags. It's called Mr. Freeze. We're trapped. There was smoke. Please.
Operator: Okay, bear with me for one moment. Do not hang up, okay? Be with me one moment.
Rider: Please hurry.
Operator: They've already been dispatched ma'am; they're on the way there. Stay on the phone with me, okay? I need you to relax. We have help on the way. Let everybody know there's help on the way. (Inaudible screaming in the background).
Operator: Ma'am. (Background voice: "Open the place up, what the f***?").
Operator: Ma'am. (Background voice: "Open it").
Rider: What? I'm sorry.
Operator: Let everybody know help is on the way.
Rider: All we can do is pray.
Operator: Let everybody . . . listen to what I'm saying. Listen to my words, okay? We got help on the way. Let everybody know, help is on the way. (Background voice: "Jesus please.") (Screaming in the background) (Background voice: "Oh my God.").
Operator: Ma'am. (Background: "Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God").
The legal complaint asserts that Six Flags staff did not activate an emergency evacuation system, which uses a specific tool to free passengers in a timely manner, as evidenced by the prolonged 9-1-1 recording.
The lawsuit further states that the prolonged time it took to rescue the passengers from their seats exacerbated their injuries and emotional distress and could have been fatal.
Connis is seeking more than $1 million in damages in his lawsuit, which is still pending as of the date of this publication.
Amusement park lawsuits
Amusement park accidents happen for all types of reasons. Mechanical issues can involve faulty safety pins, exposed wires, or malfunctioning restraints. Accidents can also arise from operator errors like halting rides suddenly, poor maintenance, or overlooking safety guidelines. Riders themselves may even cause accidents by misbehaving, like rocking cars or bypassing restraints.
If an amusement park accident was caused by the carelessness of the amusement park or an amusement park employee, a negligence claim may be appropriate.
A plaintiff in an amusement park accident lawsuit based on negligence must establish that:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid harming the employee,
- The defendant breached its duty, and
- The breach was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
If an employee is negligent, the amusement park can be sued under the theory of respondeat superior.
Common examples of negligence include:
- Failing to post or enforce warning signs
- Failing to train ride operators
- Failing to maintain safe equipment
- Failing to inspect the roller coaster
- Failing to react to an emergency situation
If an amusement park accident is caused by a defective component, a product liability lawsuit might be appropriate.
Find out what Florida personal injury attorney Mike Redondo had to say about a tragic amusement park accident that occurred at ICON Park in Orlando, Florida.
Amusement park rides are supposed to be, well... amusing. But every once in a while, something goes horribly wrong. If you suffered an injury at an amusement park, you may be entitled to compensation. Consider reaching out to a personal injury attorney to review your case.