Death of Wisconsin Teenager is a Reminder to Take Precautions Before Getting on Amusement Park Rides

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Many states have laws regulating the rides, but some don't; in any case, simple precautions can prevent disaster.

The death of a teenager on an amusement park ride in Wisconsin last month should remind everyone to take precautions before climbing on board the thrill rides, Attorney Jeffrey Hensley warned today.

The Wisconsin youngster, Elizabeth K. Mohl, 16, fell more than 40 feet from a ride called Air Glory at an amusement park in Oshkosh, Wis.
The Air Glory ride lifts people up in the air in a sling. When an operator pulls a rip cord, the sling plunges down, causing riders to swing back and forth.

Mohl was one of two people on the ride. The other person did not fall, but Mohl plunged to the ground and died later during surgery.

"Amusement parks offer fun and relaxation, but amusement park rides kill people in the U.S. virtually every year," Hensley said. "Everyone, and especially children, should exercise extreme care before getting on amusement park rides."

According to Hensley, people should:

  • Comply with age or height restrictions.
  • Chaperone youngsters.
  • Carefully secure safety harnesses and restraints.
  • Avoid loose-fitting clothing, especially baggy sleeves.
  • Keep hands inside rides.
  • Hold on.
  • Know where first aid or EMT services are located.

Ride operators have a responsibility to see to it that rides are kept in good operating condition, and that operators as well as riders follow the rules and behave responsibly.

Some states, such as Kansas, are considering additional safety inspections for amusement park rides. One Kansas lawmaker, Rep. Tom Sloan, says he wants to file a bill requiring new safety inspections to be conducted every time a ride is set up in a new location. He also wants employees to receive formal safety training.

"Our job is to do what we can to protect people, particularly when we're dealing with children," Sloan said. "Things still may happen, but we need to be able to say we took every precaution to prevent an accident."

Hensley said he agreed.

"Most states have laws regulating amusement park rides, and those that don't should reconsider their positions," Hensley said. "The best time to deal with accidents of any kind is before they happen -- take some time beforehand to do the right things and keep serious accidents from happening."

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BILL FREDERICK
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