Is it true that a girl got her long hair stuck at the top of power tower at Cedar point, and on the way down had her scalp ripped right off because of her hair?
[Collected via e-mail, 1998]
I live in New Jersey, not too far from Great Adventure/Six Flags in Jackson. Everytime I go someone never fails to mention that several years ago, a girl riding on the "Free Fall" attraction got her hair caught in the machinery and it near tore her scalp off.
- The accident is said to have taken place on the
Stuntman's Freefallat Six Flags in New Jersey, the Power Towerat Cedar Point in Ohio, or a ferris wheel at an unnamed amusement park.
- In the legend, the victim is always female and usually a child.
Sadly, the basic thrust of the
Danielle's hair slipped through a one-inch gap between the back of her seat and the cover on the motor. It wound around a motor shaft spinning at 1,745 revolutions per minute, reeling in her head with such force that it smashed the back of her fiberglass seat. A piece of her scalp was caught in the motor. (A manufacturer of the rides has said the gap should not exist, that the motor cover should be flush with the back of the seat.)
Danielle has undergone four bouts of reconstructive surgery, and in 1998 she was awarded
What puts this real-life accident within the realm of lore is how the incident is now remembered. As shown by the examples quoted above, people recall it having happened at a number of different parks and having involved a high-speed, high-drop thrill ride, or at least a ride in which height played a significant factor (such as a ferris wheel). In such scenarios, the horrifying event would not only have been public, but the victim would have been hung in the air for all to see. However, the Mini Himalaya cannot by any stretch of the imagination be considered a "thrill ride," as the following photograph shows. Indeed, it's classified as a "kiddie ride" by those who operate amusement parks:
A somewhat similar (yet far less horrific) accident took place in March 2001 at a North Carolina carnival when 7-year-old Samantha Small caught her braids in the enclosed car of the Skydiver, a vertical wheel ride which spins riders about as they traverse the circuit of a ferris wheel. The girl lost two chunks of her own hair as well as some hair extensions, but no scalp. Her injuries required treatment with antibiotic cream.
A deadly incident (albeit one involving a maintenance worker rather than a passenger) occurred on
Accidents at amusement parks are nothing new. As safe as we want to believe these sites are, they have been the scenes of injury and death. Tragedies like these stay in people's minds, however, due to the nature of the
Barbara "the happiest place unearthed" Mikkelson
Last updated: 16 May 2009
Klemovich, Della. "Bonkers Shuts, Cites Publicity." The Patriot Ledger. 19 October 1996 (p. A1). Mehegan, Julie A. "Safety First for Fiesta." Marshfield Mariner. 26 August 1998. Sullivan, Jennifer. "Accident Witnesses Given Counseling." The Seattle Times. 19 August 2003 (p. B2). Velush, Lukas and Jennifer Warnick. "Carnival Worker Killed at Fair." The [Everett] Herald. 17 August 2003.
Associated Press. "Girl Receives $7.5 Million in Settlement." 16 August 1998.
Associated Press. "Girl's Braids Pulled Out by Carnival Ride." 23 March 2001.