Death crash on Disney ‘thunder train’

LOS ANGELES: A roller-coaster derailed yesterday at Southern California’s Disneyland theme park, killing one man and injuring 10 other people, including a nine-year-old.

The locomotive on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad attraction left the tracks while the train went through a dark tunnel, said officials in Anaheim, California, where the park is located.

An adult man in the first passenger car of the rollercoaster was found dead at the scene by emergency workers.

Disney shut the ride and the area was still cordoned off yesterday afternoon while the coroner examined the body.

“The locomotive itself disconnected from the passenger cars,” Anaheim spokesman John Nicoletti said in a televised news conference.

“How it was disconnected or became disconnected we are not sure at this point.”

Los Angeles television station KCAL 9 said the injured riders ranged in age from nine to 47 years.

Eight of the passengers – four male and four female – were taken to hospitals.

Some passengers left the ride immediately after the accident and it was not clear how many had been on board, Mr Nicoletti said.

“We are shocked and saddened by the incident,” said Cynthia Harris, president of Disneyland, which is owned by Walt Disney Co, the largest theme park operator in the world. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of those involved.”

“At this point, we don’t believe sabotage was involved but we are going to look at everything,” Anaheim police Sergeant Rick Martinez said.

The roller-coaster takes people on a twisting, turning ride aboard what is supposed to be a runaway train in the Old West.

The computer-controlled attraction, which opened in 1979, can carry as many as 32 people. The operator does not ride aboard the train.

Disney last year named a new executive to oversee safety and released a report on efforts to improve safety at the parks, prompted by public concerns in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Disneyland had an estimated 12.7 million visitors in 2002.

Accidents at Disney parks include the apparent drowning at Disney World in Florida in April, 2002, of a man who jumped out of a tower and fell into a lagoon and the 1998 death of a 33-year-old man at Disneyland who was struck by a metal cleat at a dock at the Columbia ship attraction.

A boy, 4, was critically injured after being trapped underneath a car in the Roger Rabbit Car Toon Spin in September, 2000.

A Utah couple sued Disneyland, saying they had been injured on the Space Mountain roller-coaster when their car derailed during an emergency stop

As reported by The Advertiser