My wife and I (and our kids) are season ticket holders at Six Flags. I had just taken the kids out there last night. It’s only 20 minutes from us and it’s a good way to kill time. They kids like the kiddie rides and we like that it tires them out. This evening we ventured out to wrap up a Friday evening. We arrived around 7PM. As we were heading through the main gate a guard came over and whispered something to the ticket-checker who immediately turned to us and said: “The Giant, Titan, and Railroad Train are all closed for the night, just so you know!” We weren’t planning on doing any coasters tonight so we didn’t care. For the record, I NEVER do the coasters. I’m too scared of them. Anyway, we went forth. My wife asked if I would ride the Minnie Mine Train with our son. I reluctantly said yes and immediately regretted it. It’s a kids coaster but it’s still too much for me. As soon as we finished, I took our daughter (as scared as her daddy of these things) while my wife took our son on the bigger Mine Train. I used this opportunity to grab a smoke. The three people sitting on the benches in the smoking area were all talking about what had happened. I heard their story and interjected: “Wait… Did you say a woman fell off the the Giant?!” They continued with details that sounded almost implausible. It truly sounded like a rumor that had gone viral but that wasn’t true. But the one lady told me that she was on line to ride the Giant when it happened. According to her, the woman who died was standing with her kid (or kids, I didn’t catch it exactly). The kid(s) wanted to ride together so the mom volunteered to go on the ride that was waiting while the kid(s) would take the next ride. Apparently, the coaster got up there (about fourteen stories up there) and the harness failed. The kid watched in horror as the car pulled back into the station with screaming, crying riders and no mom in sight. I don’t know the veracity of these details. I wasn’t even sure the story was correct.
When the wife and son came off their ride I told her what I had heard. We were both in disbelief. Surely, we would have heard something. An announcement? Something whispered, even? Nothing. Soon, while walking toward the carousel, we noticed a helicopter hovering overhead. “I bet that story was true,” I said to my wife. We started walking over in the direction of those rides and only made it so far before we encountered a few park guards blocking the walkway that led to the Giant (and a handful of other rides). At that moment, I finally found some tweets from a local news anchor confirming that a woman had fallen from the Giant and died. We were in such shock that this had happened as we were arriving and they continued to allow new guests into the park. And for two hours we walked around in a park where a woman had just died and, indeed, her body was still where she had fallen. I was sick to think that the managers of this park hadn’t closed down. Simple respect for human life would have required as much. As I told my wife, when a construction workers falls and dies, the site shuts down for the day. It’s the least that can be done. But instead they continued to take fares and let patrons through the gates. God forbid they lose a few bucks… Not even a moment of silence. NOTHING! No acknowledgment was made except through a tweeted press release. The whole scene was so surreal as we took our kids and left. We prayed for the poor victim while walking to our car amid the sound of the chopper overhead and the screams of people riding the other coasters over our shoulders. Sure I’ll have nightmares for a few weeks now.
Please say a prayer for that woman and her family.