Death rekindles fears over safety at amusement parks

  • Published : Apr 5, 2010 - 15:28
  • Updated : Apr 5, 2010 - 15:28
Police are investigating the death of a woman who was crushed by a ride Sunday at the nation`s largest family fun park, Samsung Everland, rekindling concerns over lax safety standards at amusement facilities.
A 38-year-old housewife died from a broken neck after being hit by a spinning barrel of the Magic Battle, one of the most popular rides at Everland.
Magic Battle, similar to the Viking, is a 7.4 meter high barrel which spins left and right during the ride.
It was the first time for a visitor to die on a ride in Everland in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province.
The ride has been closed for investigation with operators being booked under charges of not adequately maintaining safety measures, police said.
Shortly after getting onto the ride with her husband and two children, the housewife suddenly got afraid and decided to leave before the safety lever came down.
But unable to leave the ride completely, she stood leaning toward the entrance wall.
The operator who failed to notice the woman standing outside of the barrel started the ride and the woman fell to the ground after being hit by the spinning barrel. The worker stopped the ride after about 20 seconds, hearing screams.
Visitors who had been on the ride stated that the operator started the ride after a brief broadcast, without inspecting whether anyone was standing near the barrel, police said.
About 30 people were on the ride at the time of accident.
Although there was a closed circuit television installed in the operator`s booth, he was unable to spot the housewife due to dark lighting. And because the camera was only installed toward the exit, he was unable to observe the entrance area.
"We apologize for our lack of safety alertness, when all officials should have properly checked the customers` location," Everland said. "We fully accept the result and will take responsibility for the tragedy."
Everland opened as "Yonggin Farmland" in 1976, changing its name to Samgsung Everland after renovation. Consisting of a large outdoor swimming pool Caribbean Bay and a zoo, Everland has become one of Korea`s most famous tourist spots.
Police are investigating Everland safety supervisors, reviewing the management of rides and will book responsible employees - including 22-year-old operator of the ride - for lax safety measures.
Last Monday, Seoul`s biggest amusement park Lotte World shut down to undergo a full-scale renovation also due to rising safety concerns.
Lotte World had been under fire for ignoring expert warnings about its aging facilities, despite a series of accidents including the death of an employee who fell off the roller coaster and a boy who was severely injured after being hit in the head by a ceiling tile which fell off during a ride.

By Shin Hae-in