Ride safety expert weighs in on Florida roller coaster derailment

Ride safety expert weighs in on Florida roller coaster derailment
Updated: Jun. 15, 2018 at 7:20 PM EDT
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(WWBT) - Moments that should have been fun, turned into terror Thursday, when a roller coaster derailed and two people fell more than three stories to the ground in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Ride safety expert and consultant Ken Martin calls the accident a ride operator's "worst nightmare." He says the situation lends itself to taking a hard look at how rides are inspected all over the country.

"We know the ride was 40 years old. We know it sat unused for a number of years. It was taken down from one location, brought to another location," explained Martin. "These rides are kind of like your teeth: if you don't take care of them, they're going to fall out. If you don't take care of the ride, it's going to fall apart."

Martin has worked closely with many in the amusement park industry, and what happened Thursday is one of the worst things that can happen, putting lives at risk.

"I'm very familiar with these rides and what they do. To see the entire three-car train basically come off the tracks makes me wonder what kind of catastrophic failure occurred," said Martin.

Over the years, Martin says the Sandblaster has been cited for corrosion issues, which Martin says can lead to a "hazardous situation." Officials in Florida say hours before the accident, the ride passed inspection.

Martin says those inspections are crucial and can be life-saving. In Virginia, rides are inspected locally, but Martin says more should be done.

"We go out and we just assume amusement rides are going to be all right and going to be safe," said Martin. "I'm not saying they are not safe - there are things we can do to make them safer."

Martin says it is important for riders to pay close attention to their surroundings when at amusement parks, to hopefully keep themselves safe.

"We can look at the ride operator, see how they are conducting themselves. We can listen for sounds, any type of sound. It may be strange to you, but it may be normal for the ride. That's why we have to use our common sense. Watch the ride before we get on it, because the last thing you want to do is get on it and have something happen," he explained.

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