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Six Flags shuts down thrill rides after girl's feet severed

| Saturday, June 23, 2007

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Six Flags and Cedar Fair shut down eight more thrill rides around North America on Friday after a teenage girl's feet were sliced off during a ride in Kentucky.

State inspectors were at the Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom to examine the Superman Tower of Power, where the accident happened Thursday. The ride lifts passengers 177 feet straight up, then drops them almost the same distance at speeds reaching 54 mph.

A similar ride at Kennywood Park in West Mifflin was closed for several hours yesterday while inspectors checked it.

It was unclear at what point in the ride the 13-year-old was injured, said Wendy Goldberg, a Six Flags spokeswoman. The girl was taken to a hospital, where her condition was not available yesterday.

Six Flags shut down similar rides at parks in St. Louis; Gurnee, Ill.; and near Washington as a safety precaution, Goldberg said. She said Six Flags Over Texas, near Dallas, also has a Superman Tower of Power, but it is not the same ride.

There had been no reports of injuries on the ride before Thursday, she said.

"Millions of people have safely ridden this ride in our parks," Goldberg said.

Cedar Fair Entertainment Co. also shut down drop tower rides at five of its amusement parks for inspection, company spokeswoman Stacy Frole said. Frole described it as a precautionary measure.

Intamin AG, a Swiss company, made all the rides but did not supply all the parts, said Sandor Kernacs, president of the company's American operations, Intamin Ltd. in Glen Burnie, Md.

Kennywood Park did not open its Pitt Fall ride until 2 p.m. yesterday to allow for an extra inspection of the free fall ride's cables, said Mary Lou Rosemeyer, spokeswoman for the amusement park.

Pitt Fall was built by Intamin and opened in 1997. It lifts 16 riders 251 feet straight up and then drops them a maximum of 229 feet at a top speed of 65 mph. The extra inspection happened after Kennywood officials received an e-mail requesting it from Intamin, Rosemeyer said.

The Pitt Fall has never injured a rider, Rosemeyer said. Yesterday's inspections revealed no problems.

Bill Clary, a spokesman for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, which inspects amusement park rides, said a cause hadn't been determined yesterday afternoon.

The accident didn't appear to slow business yesterday at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. A stream of cars and foot traffic poured into the amusement park on a warm, breezy summer day.

The five Cedar Fair rides that were shut down are at Kings Island near Cincinnati; Canada's Wonderland in Toronto; Kings Dominion in Doswell, Va.; Carowinds in Charlotte; and Great America in Santa Clara, Calif.

Staff writer Jeremy Boren contributed to this report.

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