LOUISVILLE, Kentucky –
Seventeen people, including six children, were tragically killed, and thirty-three others were injured when a wooden roller coaster at the new amusement park, Bluegrass Boardwalk, completely collapsed Sunday afternoon. The roller coaster, named Noah’s Ark, had just entered its first loop when the wooden structure began to collapse. “It was horrific, it just crumbled like a stack of tooth picks, those poor people, I will have nightmares about this the rest of my life, it could have been us,” said 33-year old Jessica Waterbury of Louisville, who was waiting in line for the next ride on the coaster.
Bluegrass Boardwalk spokesperson Jarrod Ransdell issued a brief public statement immediately following the tragedy, “We are working with police in the investigation as to why this horrific incident occurred. To the families of those killed and injured we offer our deepest condolences. Out of respect, we decided to close the park for the remainder of the day. But for anyone who was planning to visit us, the park will be re-opened, operating at its usual hours tomorrow morning!” Ransdell said with a smile.
The accident occurred at approximately 12:15 PM, and the park was immediately evacuated as emergency personnel converged on the scene. Those evacuated, as well as those involved in the incident, will receive a full refund and a $10 gift certificate to be used towards concession stand items on a future visit, according to Bluegrass Boardwalk management. Spokesperson Ransdell also stated that those injured in the accident will be given free passes for the remainder of the current season.
“As this was indeed a terrible tragedy, we wish and ask those involved to not give up on Bluegrass Boardwalk, and encourage them to come back to the park as soon as they are able. We’d love for you to come and make up for their day of fun-filled activities which was tragically cut short,” said Ransdell.
Of the thirty-three injured in the accident, seventeen remain in critical condition at nearby hospitals in the Louisville area. Louisville resident Jermaine Parker, who managed to escape the tragedy along with his two sons with only minor cuts and scratches, said that he is extremely grateful for the park’s actions regarding the accident.
“I tell you what, they could have just left us with an apology, but they’re not. They’re stepping up and they’re giving us a gift certificate and passes, and that’s really big of them,” said Parker. “It admits fault, and that’s as good as an actual apology or civil court victory for me. I can’t wait to come back and ride the Noah’s Ark again once they rebuild it.”
Not everyone who was at the park is happy about the events that occurred, with several bystanders visibly upset by the accident.
“They’re giving season passes to those on the ride? Wow. What about me? I was waiting, and it could have been me on there. I think I deserve a season pass just as much as the people who were on the ride. After all, I had to see the carts come flying off, and it was extremely traumatic,” said Aaron Silver, a park visitor. “This place is so cheap, it’s sickening.”
The amusement park, located in south Louisville, opened in May of this year and branded itself as a more cost-efficient alternative to the more popular Kentucky Kingdom, which is also in Louisville. Billboards around the city advertised itself using the motto, “Cheap Thrills With Wooden Hills,” referring to it prime attraction, the wooden roller coaster involved in the accident.
It is possible that the park will avoid lawsuits due to the fact that on the back of each ticket, and posted at every entrance, restroom, park bench, and water fountain is a disclaimer stating “All persons who enter the park do so at their own risk. Bluegrass Boardwalk is not responsible for injuries, health issues, or death which may occur on company grounds”
The names of those killed and injured in the accident are being withheld from the public at this time pending notification of kin.