PENNSYLVANIA – The victim fell off a roller coaster at the park on Thursday and was airlifted to a hospital with unknown injuries, a park spokesperson said. The incident occurred at the middle section of the ride.
A 3-year-old boy fell off a roller coaster Thursday at Idlewild & Soak Zone in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, officials said.
Emergency dispatchers said the accident happened about noon, and a medical helicopter was sent to the park. Jeff Croushore, a spokesman for the amusement park, said during a news conference that the boy was conscious and talking when he was flown to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.
Croushore said the boy was at Idlewild with his family. The 3-year-old was riding the Rollo Coaster with his brother when he fell off, Croushore said.
“(The investigation) is ongoing. I can’t confirm everything. I don’t have the exact location on the ride (where he fell), but middle part of the ride, track,” Croushore said.
No details about the boy’s condition have been released.
Kelly Howard, who took her 3- and 5-year-old sons on the ride earlier in the day, described her experience on the ride.
“I had to literally hold him down. There was no belt to hold him in,” she said. “He even asked why there wasn’t a belt.”
The Rollo Coaster has been closed indefinitely pending the results of an investigation. According to Idlewild’s website, a solo rider on the roller coaster must be at least 48 inches tall or 36 inches tall if accompanied by an adult. The coaster opened in 1938 and takes riders up, down and around a wooded hillside. It doesn’t require seat belts.
Croushore said safety is a priority for the amusement park. He said the rides are inspected each day and don’t open if they fail to pass.
A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture reiterated that the amusement park’s rides are inspected every day by someone certified with the state, and reports on inspections are due to the state every 30 days. He also said the department sends in state inspectors unannounced to do surprise inspections.
The department’s deputy communications director released the following statement:
“This afternoon, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture learned of this morning’s incident at Idlewild. Our thoughts are with the child involved in this incident. At this point, the department is working with the amusement park’s staff and local officials to investigate. As part of that investigation, the department has an inspector on site to inspect the ride, and we are examining the inspection history. At this point, we know the ride was most recently inspected by a private certified inspector on Aug. 6, 2016, and that it passed that inspection.
“This ride is one of more than 10,200 across the commonwealth that is registered with the state. There are more than 1,650 inspectors that the department has trained and certified to monitor rides in an effort to strengthen public safety. The department has inspected and registered amusement rides under the Amusement Ride Safety Act since 1984.”
Ken Martin, who is an amusement park ride consultant in Richmond, Virginia, said Pennsylvania is one of the top states when it comes to safety with specific guidelines for rides.
“They, in my opinion, have one of the best programs, if not the best, in the country,” he said.
As for previous incidents at the park, WPXI uncovered a lawsuit filed against Idlewild after a woman claimed she was hurt on the Wild Mouse roller coaster in 2009. She said she was thrown forward and suffered neck injuries. The suit was settled in 2013.
The incident Thursday comes four days after a 10-year-old boy was decapitated as he rode a water slide at a Kansas water park.