War Hero’s Fatal Accident Highlights Dangers of Roller Coasters


During the summer, roller coasters all over the country will have plenty of traffic as children and parents flock to amusement and theme parks. With so many selections such as Disneyworld and Busch Gardens, visitors from around the world will head to Central and South Florida for its thrill rides. However, an Army hero’s fatal roller coaster accident has many critics worried about the safety of roller coasters.

A story from ABCNews highlighted the accident, as well as a roller coaster incident in Texas , as examples to show the public how these recent incidents have brought attention to amusement ride accidents.

As noted by ABC in their story, proprietors of roller coasters and theme parks defend their rides and maintain that the odds of someone getting injured in a roller coaster accident are 1 in 1 million. However, many experts warn that the twists and turns of these thrill rides can cause serious injury, including severe whiplash and even death. Critics of these high speed thrill rides warn that the risks may outweigh the benefits, due to the lack of federal regulation over these coasters to apply appropriate safety standards.

We encourage families to enjoy the many theme parks and amusement rides throughout Florida, but we strongly urge that everyone be aware of the risks involved and to follow all safety instructions before going on a roller coaster. With access to the Internet it is easier than ever for an individual to locate thrill ride companies and amusement park’s safety information posted on their websites, so doing your research could also help avoid injury.

If you have been injured in a roller coaster accident, contact our office and consult with a South Florida amusement ride accident attorney today.

Safety Tips for Amusement Rides


This time of the year, families from all over are getting ready for their trips to Florida’s theme parks and family entertainment centers – Disneyworld, Universal Studios and Busch Gardens in Orlando and Tampa, or the Rapids Water Park in South Florida. Florida’s parks are filled with attractions, thrill rides and rollercoasters for the whole family. This week, a story from the Orlando Sentinel showed that as parks continue to bring innovative rides to us, amusement ride accidents are still a concern.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that a ride in one of Walt Disney World’s parks will remain closed throughout the summer, as planned maintenance was delayed due to an ongoing federal investigation of a fatal accident last year. According to the Sentinel, Disney extended the closure of Primeval Whirl, a ride at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, until September 14. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the death of a 52-year-old mechanic who was hit by one of the ride’s vehicles in March. In November 2007, a ride operator was struck by a vehicle while loading guests and died days later. Disney responded by extending the ride’s platform and installing sensor mats.

We’ve noted in this blog and in previous blogs that amusement ride accidents can happen everywhere, even in the most notable theme parks. To help prevent injury, here are a few tips for your next trip to the parks:

• Read and follow all safety guidelines posted for each ride.
• Make sure you and your children are properly buckled and secured on all rides.
• Consult with a physician prior to your trip if you have any injuries or medical conditions.
• Let an employee/operator know if you have special needs (i.e. wheelchair access) before entering a ride.
• Research park websites and reviews to know which parks are safe and appropriate for your children.
• Always keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle/rollercoaster cart/etc.
• Do not wear any loose clothing which can get caught or tangled.
• Place any items or bags in the designated areas before entering a ride.

If you have been injured in an amusement ride accident, consult with an amusement ride accident attorney today.

South Florida Boomers to Pay $2.3 Million to Accident Victim

On Monday, August 31, a jury awarded 48-year-old Michael Livington of Boston, MA, $2.3 million for injuries he suffered at the Boomers! in Boca Raton, Florida.

According to the Palm Beach Post, the accident occurred on May 15, 2005, in which Livington fell from a 25-foot rock climbing-wall, due to a hydraulic cable falling from the top of the wall. Livington suffered a broken ankle, which had to be fused.

Boomers is a family entertainment center, home to many games and attractions such as go-karts, laser tag, and bumper boats. Boomers, with two South Florida locations – Boca Raton and Ft. Lauderdale – is owned by Palace Entertainment, which owns many other popular parks such as Wild Waters and Silver Springs, both located in Ocala, Florida.

Amusement parks have been a staple in America for many years, from the large world-renowned parks of Walt Disney World “need to link to Disney article” to smaller establishments such as Boomers. In 2007, a survey by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions showed that 1,309 ride-related injuries occurred, with 35 considered “serious”.


Fatal Injury at Florida’s Disney World

Last week, 30-year-old Anislav Varbanov, a stunt performer at Disney Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida, died when he broke his neck while rehearsing for a stunt show. The Orlando Sentinel story reports that the performer was practicing a tumble roll for the popular Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. The Orange-Osceola County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the cause of death due to a cervical spine fracture in Varbanov’s neck.

A spokeswoman for Disney, Zoraya Suarez , stated that the tumble roll was a common maneuver which had been performed many times in the show without injury. One employee said he was told that Varbanov landed awkwardly on his neck during the rehearsal.

This is the third incident in two months at the popular Florida amusement park. A week prior to this incident, Mark Priest, a 47-year-old actor at Captain Jack’s Pirate Tutorial in the Magic Kingdom, was injured after stumbling into a wall.

During the 4th of July weekend, 21-year-old monorail operator Austin Wuennenberg was killed in a monorail collision. The Sheriff’s Office is also investigating these other accidents. While the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigates each incident for patterns, Disney has said that each of these cases is unique and there is no link between them.

Since 2007, the OSHA has started 17 investigations, including the three mentioned this year, but only had three investigations in the previous five years. While no guests were injured in these three recent incidents, this wave of accidents in the past two months still presents a concern to the millions of guests and children who visit Disney’s theme parks in the summertime. Investigators must do their best to see that, whether these incidents were separate or related, the appropriate measures are taken so that both employees and guests are assured that Disney continues to operate its facilities with the utmost safety.