Six Flags Great Adventure's Lightnin' Loops 1987 Death

Six Flags Great Adventure's Lightnin' Loops opened at the Jackson, NJ theme park in 1978. It was joined a year later by Rolling Thunder.



On Wednesday, June 17, 1987, it was the site of the tragic death of 19 year old Karen Brown.



Joe C writes, "For everyone's knowledge, I was a former employee that worked this ride back in the 80's. There were 6 cars in each train, and each car held 4 riders. Each car had it's own hydraulic restraint system, controlled by a manual pedal that had three positions: (DOWN=Unlocked, MID=Locking, UP=Locked/Secured.) Attendants on the platform would step on the pedals (DOWN) to unlock the restraints while unloading and loading new riders. Once people were seated, the attendants would then raise the pedals manually (MID) which would allow the harnesses to be lowered and secured. For each harness that was lowered while in the MID position, the pedal would "click" to the UP position. Once all four seats were secured with the harnesses lowered, the pedal would rest in the UP/locked/secured position. There are proximity sensors that detect the location of the pedal when the operator presses the dispatch button. If any of the pedals aren't in the "UP" position, the launch is aborted and the restraints are re-checked to ensure they are all secured properly. Meaning the ride control system will NOT dispatch a train if the harnesses aren't in the locked position.* I know a lot of people felt their harness was loose, or "came up" when they rode the ride during the first few years, and that has some validity... The original restraint system on the trains was hydraulic and each harness could have a bit of "play" when they were in the locked/secured position. Each car had it's own hydraulic system, which controlled the flow of fluid to each of the four seats in each car. Due to the nature of hydraulics, sometimes small air bubbles in the lines would allow for "play" or softness in the harnesses, and some had more movement than others. While it could certainly "feel" like the harness wasn't secure, there was in fact no way for it to become unlocked and come up as some have indicated. If that were the case, all four harnesses in the car would be affected and there would be disastrous results. I love how everyone says "the ride always had problem"... when in fact, it was one of the safest rides ever! There were NO reports of restraint failures EVER! Inspections of the trains, restraint systems, tracks, brakes etc., are done on a daily basis and employees perform safety rides throughout the day to check for any anomalies. At the beginning of the 80's., the trains were retrofitted with "ratchet-style" locking mechanisms which eliminated the "loose feel" that many insisted were "broken restraints." Let's not forget that due to centrifugal force, you would NOT fall out while upside down. The harnesses are really there to protect you from falling out on the hills, because you are being "pulled down" by the weight of the moving train. When I worked the ride, and the operator on the far side needed their water cooler changed/refilled, we would send another filled Igloo drink cooler to them by placing it on the floor of the train between our legs, and riding across with with it. This was done instead of carrying a large cooler filled with ice water down 97 steps, all the way across the ride, and up 82 steps, then back down the 82 steps and back up the 97 steps with an empty cooler. Dangerous? Meh.... not really... More lazy than anything else... But the point is, nothing spilled out, and the contents never dumped on us while riding through the loop. All these people claiming their harness didn't lock are mistaken. * The girl who was killed was trying to get under an already-locked harness. I can't tell you how many times riders would exit the train, and would go down the exit stairs, then quickly turn around and try to "sneak back on" while an attendant's back was turned. I can't say exactly what happened here, but from park guests' testimony, the woman entered the seat not from the gated entry side of the station, but from the opposite exit side. Nonetheless, the attendant on the platform SHOULD have paid more attention in my opinion."

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