Known as the "Black Belt of Roller Coasters," Six Flags Magic Mountain's Ninja roller coaster just might need to slow down. Six Flags' Ninja roller coaster derailed Monday evening, leaving 22 people suspended 40 feet above the ground for nearly three hours. The high-speed roller coaster, which goes up to 55 miles per hour, is famous for its unique design that allows riders to swing from their seats, which hang down from the tracks above their heads. In other words, the accident could have been a lot worse, and it's a miracle it wasn't.
The incident occurred a little before 6 p.m., when a tree branch somehow landed on the tracks and derailed the first car. A clamp connecting the first car to the track reportedly broke off when it hit the branch. As a result, the car dangled off the track — and not in the way the ride is intended to do — held on by a rear clamp attached to the second car.
When the ride was shut down, the ride was stuck in an awkward position, as were the passengers as they waited to be rescued by Los Angeles County Fire Department firefighters. An urban search-and-rescue team was also dispatched to the amusement park to help extricate the stuck riders.
All 22 people were evacuated by 8:30 p.m. Four people sustained minor injuries, and two were rushed to a local hospital as a precaution. Although there were no deaths, fortunately, the incident must have undoubtedly traumatized some of these unsuspecting riders.
"We were going across one turn and all of a sudden a loud noise
happened," one rider Jeremy Ead described to CBS Los Angeles. "I ducked down just in time. A hard branch
hit me in the head. I was there bleeding from my head, which was a
little worse than this," Ead said, pointing to the gash on his forehead.
The Ninja ride is currently closed and will remain shuttered until the park completes its inspection.
Though this Six Flags incident was relatively tame without any fatalities, there have been previous accidents didn't prove to be so harmless. If you plan on going or taking your family to an amusement park this summer, here are some important statistics and facts to know before claiming a spot on a high-speed ride.
- According to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), the chance of being seriously injured on a ride at a fixed-site amusement park in the U.S. is 1 in 24 million.
- The IAAPA says that out of the 1,415 ride-related injuries, only 61, or less than 5 percent, required overnight treatment at a hospital.
- According to the Amusement Safety Organization, there were 103 significant amusement park-related injuries in 2013.
- There is no state or federal oversight regulating amusement park safety, so inspections and regulations are performed by the parks themselves.
- Accidents and injuries can range from derailed cars crashing to the ground to cables coming loose and severing limbs as well as brain aneurysms caused by increasingly high speeds and powerful g-forces.