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Update: Eyewitnesses describe Cedar Point guest being struck by falling piece of Top Thrill Dragster

Crooked River Chronicle
Crooked River Chronicle
 2021-08-17

By Collin Cunningham

This story has been updated. The original copy can be found below.

(SANDUSKY, Ohio) The component of the Top Thrill Dragster that fell and injured a woman at Cedar Point on Sunday "looked like a metal disc flying through the air," according to an eyewitness account from someone who watched the incident.

Cleveland.com reports that details of the woman's injury and her current status were both unknown as of Monday afternoon, but the piece did strike her in the head as it tumbled through the air. Emergency personnel initially transported her to the nearby Firelands Medical Center when the accident took place around 4:30 p.m., but later brought her to another medical facility that same day. A Firelands spokesperson did not say where she was taken.

A spokesperson for The Ohio Department of Agriculture, which now checks large amusement park rides for safety twice per year following a deadly ride accident at the Ohio State Fair in 2017, said the Top Thrill Dragster had most recently passed inspection on May 14.

The Sandusky Registrar posted the following video of EMS body camera footage from when crews arrived. Some viewers may find the footage disturbing.

"There was a lot of commotion. A lot of people started screaming and hopping the gates and running towards the exit and everybody just started yelling 'this woman’s hurt, this woman’s hurt, this woman’s hurt'," David Vallo, a registered nurse who was on the scene when the piece fell, described the scene to 3News. "Everybody’s running and so I went the other direction to try and find her. You know, I’ve been an ER nurse for a long time.”

Vallo added that he and other park guests who were waiting in line for the Dragster tried to help her until medical personnel arrived at the scene, using people's clothing to fashion makeshift tourniquets and seeing to other guests' cuts and bruises.

A Twitter user who also saw the injury take place said they would not be visiting Cedar Point again after waiting in line a couple of rows away from where the woman was hit.

"I'll never be able to get that image out of my head," they stated.

Original story:

(SANDUSKY, Ohio) A Cedar Point visitor came for the rides but left in an ambulance on Sunday after a fallen rollercoaster piece struck and injured them.

Per FOX59, a falling piece of debris from the Top Thrill Dragster hit a woman around 4:30 p.m. as she was waiting in line to board. Medical personnel soon rushed her to a nearby hospital, but there were no updates on her condition as of Monday morning.

“At this time, our focus is on the guest and her family,” Cedar Point said in a statement released to media after the Dragster piece fell. The same statement also stated the following:

"At approximately 4:30 this afternoon, a small metal object became disengaged from a train on the Top Thrill Dragster roller coaster as it was ending its run. The object came into contact with a female guest waiting in line for the ride. The park’s EMS team and Sandusky Fire Dept. responded immediately, and the guest was transported to the hospital for medical care.

While the amusement park did not post on social media in response to the guest's injury, it posted a tweet around the time of the incident stating that a tropical-themed attraction called Forbidden Frontier on Adventure Island would close in the next hour.

The Top Thrill Dragster is still closed as of the early hours of Monday and police said their investigation is underway. This story will be updated as more details emerge.

The Dragster is a steel, 400-foot strata coaster that takes participants up to the top of its U-Shaped curve before plummeting back down at 120 mph, according to Coasterpedia. The $25 million attraction first opened in May 2003 but had to close for several days of that season after the Toledo Blade reported the park was having issues keeping the ride in service.

“It's been down more than it's been up,” former Cedar Point spokesperson Janice Witherow told the paper at the time. “It's certainly been frustrating for all of us here at Cedar Point.”

Cedar Point's website describes the Top Thrill Dragster as follows:

Put the pedal to the metal because no speeding tickets are cited to Top Thrill Dragster. Three point eight….that’s 3.8… seconds. That is all it takes to go from a complete standstill to 120 miles per hour. You’ve never experienced speed like this. Even with a true drag strip “Christmas tree” light counting down the launch, you’ll never be ready for the pure adrenaline rush packed into a 17 second race. Riders are launched in the blink of an eye before sprinting straight up at a 90-degree incline. If you dare to open your eyes at the top you will see spectacular views only viewed by the bravest 420 feet in the air. But look quick, before you know it, you’re hurtling back to the ground in a 270- degree twist before crossing the finish line. We aren’t kidding when we say that this high-octane sprint to the checkered flag knows a thing or twenty about horsepower.

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