Valdosta - More than one million guests visit Wild Adventures and Cypress Gardens each year, and in his 10 years of operating amusement parks, Kent Buescher has never had to deal with a serious accident.
That all changed Saturday night. "We had a young man who was dared to see if he could stand up on a ride," said Buescher.
The teenage boy fell about 12 feet from the Triple Hurricane Coaster, and was airlifted to a Tampa hospital where he’s in intensive care. His lap restraint was still locked when the ride came to a stop and a state ride inspector cleared the park of any fault. "Our goal is to make sure that every time these rides go up, they’re 100 percent safe," said Buescher.
To guarantee that, the rides go through extensive safety inspections on a daily basis before they're ever allowed to go into operation. That even applies to rides as small as the carousel.
And on a yearly basis, the rides are completely dissected to look for any signs of wear and tear. "Every single ride comes totally apart, I mean break it down to every nut, bolt, and screw, and every wearable part is replaced," said Buescher.
Even with all the safety inspections the rides here at Wild Adventures and Cypress Gardens go through, park officials say no ride is completely safe if guests don’t follow the rules. "Its very simple if they’ll just make sure they’re always seated properly in the ride and the lap restraint is in place," said Buescher.
That extra caution combined with the park’s tedious safety procedures will help prevent another tragedy.