7 injured at theme park after train ride derails, officials say
ATLANTA – As many as 15 people are hurt after a massive roller coaster ride derailed Monday in south Georgia, state transportation officials said.
The Georgia Department of Transportation says the coaster, which was built in 1993, rolled in the median of Interstate 285 after about six carloads of riders collided with one another as they went around the curve.
The roller coaster, a Diamondback, was built by Florida-based manufacturer Diamondback Sports.
DOT spokesman Tim Parker said the company is cooperating with the investigation and is in contact with all of its riders.
The roller coaster’s passengers were taken to hospitals and are listed in serious condition.
Parker said the ride had not been inspected for safety before it was opened and that company officials will be taking additional steps to make the coaster as safe as possible.
The passenger who was ejected and died was from Florida. His name wasn’t released.
DOT said it was investigating how many passengers were in the roller coaster car, but it said there is no indication it had structural problems when it crashed.
The accident happened in the northbound lanes as the train was going around the top of the roller coaster and entering a turn.
The track was in bad shape and the brakes failed, causing the trains and cars to slide, the company said in a statement. The train cars broke free as they slowed and derailed, sending the entire train into an embankment and into the northbound lanes with the passengers on board.
“Our thoughts are with those who were aboard, as well as the surviving passengers,” the Diamondback statement said.
Parker said the entire passenger train of more than 20 cars and 70 cars of track was damaged but no one was hurt on the ground.
“There’s no indication of any structural damage to the track,” Parker said. “They were all crushed into this big mess.”
South Georgia is on a list of major theme park hot spots, according to statistics from the Georgia DOT. The site has about 800,000 annual visitors and has been included as a top tourist attraction on a list of 10 for 2016 by the National Travel and Tourism Office.
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