Daytona Beach roller coaster derailed due to excessive speed, operator error, investigation finds
The derailment of a Daytona Beach roller coaster in June that injured six people was caused by excessive speed, an investigation from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services found.
The investigation said operator error was the reason the Sand Blaster Roller Coaster derailed June 14, causing a cart full of people to dangle above the ground. Of the 10 people on the ride, six had to be hospitalized.
“We’ve issued subpoenas to obtain more information from the ride operator, and we will hold fully accountable those responsible,” state agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said in a statement.
During a post-accident inspection, engineers found evidence of previous derailments on the nearly 40-year-old coaster, including one that appeared to have taken place after it was refurbished in 2013, officials said in a preliminary report.
Matt Morgan, an attorney representing several people who were on the coaster, said their injuries include broken bones, collapsed lungs, and spinal and head injuries.
“It is disheartening to learn just how preventable this derailment was,” he said.
The coaster, which is on Ocean Avenue near the Daytona Beach Pier, has been out of operation since the accident and will remain out of operation indefinitely, officials said.
Chipped paint and rust found along the track indicated that the engineering failures that led to the derailment had happened “many times before” the accident in June, investigators found.
Officials were able to find videos of the coaster that were taken before the accident. In several videos, the cart’s metal safety wheels could be heard touching the bottom of the track.
“These sounds indicate that the cars are partially lifting off the tracks similar to the accident event; however, the safety wheels were able to contain the cars on the tracks,” according to the investigation.
Although seat belts were added to the coaster after its 2013 refurbishment, they were too loose to adequately hold people in the cart, investigators said. The coaster was going about 22 mph when it crashed.
According to the report, the ride — 51 feet tall at its peak — was initially erected in the early 1970s.
Source: Orlando Sentinel