ABC 17 News Investigates: Amusement Park Safety

Amusement Park Ride Flaws

COLUMBIA, Mo. - A personal injury lawsuit filed by a woman who sustained a traumatic brain injury from an accident at Six Flags Saint Louis claims the park safety manager fabricated an inspection report. 

As ABC 17 News reported previously reported, four people were hurt when an anti-rollback bracket broke, causing the Boomerang rollercoaster to roll backwards and derail on May 6, 2016. 

An inspection by the state fire marshal's office after the ride malfunctioned found that the previous inspection reports were incomplete. 

The inspection report states, "The Six Flags weekly, monthly and daily inspections to include electrical, fiberglass, mechanical or electronics did not indicate what had been inspected, who had conducted the inspection or a pass or fail for each item inspected.” 

The operator of the ride also told the investigator with the state fire marshal's office that the ride did not operate as designed and said other ride operators were distracted and had their backs to the ride, which is against state regulations.  

The woman's lawsuit also includes further allegations. She's suing Six Flags, the safety manager, the ride inspector and his employer and the manufacturer of the Boomerang. 

According to the lawsuit, Six Flags says ride inspector Robert Coleman, who is a state-qualified inspector, inspected the ride on March 19, 2016, less than two months before the accident occurred. 
The suit claims Coleman never inspected the Boomerang, signed a blank report and gave it to Six Flags Safety Manager Brian Chamberlain. 

According to the lawsuit, the ride inspector told the investigator with the state fire marshal's office that Chamberlain told him to sign the blank inspection report. 

Coleman is still listed on the department of fire safety’s page of qualified ride inspectors. 

In a statement, Six Flags says, "While we don’t comment on pending litigation, we stand behind the integrity of our Safety Manager, our inspection process and the safety of our rides."

ABC 17 reached out to the Missouri Department of Public Safety—their communications director said he couldn't comment because of ongoing litigation. 

ABC 17 also reached out to Coleman, who referred us back to Six Flags, as well as Chamberlain, who said he had no comment and to contact Six Flags' public relations.  

How the amusement ride inspection process works

Legislation regulating amusement park rides was first enacted in 1997. The Division of Fire Safety’s Amusement Park Ride Safety Program is responsible for regulation.

In order to operate an amusement park ride in the state of Missouri, one must provide paperwork to the Division of Fire Safety. The paperwork shows the ride has been inspected by a qualified state inspector. 

A permit will be granted if the inspection is passed. That permit is good for one year and must be placed on or near the ride operator's control station. 

If an amusement park ride accident happens, the ride must be stopped until the state fire marshal's office can do an inspection. 

There are also spot inspections by the Department of Fire Safety. 

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