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David Lowe
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Operator Error Blamed For Amusement Ride Death

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Error by the amusement ride operator, rather than ride malfunction, is being suggested as the cause of the tragic amusement ride death of a 16 year old Neenah girl according to by an investigative report issued by the Wisconsin Department of Commerce.

Sixteen year old Elizabeth Mohl died on Juy 14, 2007 after falling 40 feet from an amusement ride called Air Glory at a Christian Music Festival icalled Lifest in Oshkosh Wisconsin.

It appears that inexperience of an employee running the ride may have been a factor, according to the report. The ride was being operated by the owner and one other employee, who had been working for the ride’s operator only two weeks when the accident occurred. A story in the Green Bay Press Gazette quotes the report as making the following explanation of the operator error:

“Mr. Ross also said Mr. (Derek) Armelin also had a tendency not to lock the carabineer after attaching the rider to the ride. Mr. Ross said he always worked on the left side when working with Mr. Armelin so that he (Mr. Ross) could check the carabineer before attaching the safety rope. Mr. Ross stated if the carabineer was locked, there would be no way it could come loose when a person was attached to it,” said the report.

A carabiner, is a metal piece that clips the rider to a safety rope that should prevent the rider from coming loose, as apparently occurred here.

From the owner’s comment, it seems that this employee was either improperly trained in the first place, or improperly supervised by the ride’s owner. With the amusement ride industry being seasonal and itinerant by nature, too often it is operator error when these accidents occur because employees come and go. Maybe a case like this will focus attention on this problem.

For more information on this subject, please refer to our section on Wrongful Death.