Live

Watch CBSN Live

Inspectors Study Roller Coaster

(August 30, 1999) Instead of riders, inspectors were on the tracks of the Wild Wonder roller coaster today, trying to unravel what went wrong Saturday night, CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston reports.

The Ocean City, New Jersey amusement park was turned into a scene of terror when a woman and her daughter were thrown from a roller coaster car. As the ride went up the opening 30-foot incline, a chain apparently disengaged, a safety mechanism failed, and the cab plunged backwards, slamming into other cars behind it.

Thirty-nine-year old Kimberly Bailey and her 8-year-old daughter Jessica were killed.

The ride, which was manufactured in Italy, had been open less than two months. It was inspected twice by state officials and passed both times.

Investigators say there are a number of things that could have gone wrong.

"It could be something to do with the way it was constructed or the maintenance or the way it was operated," said Bill Connolly, of the New Jersey Division of Codes and Standards.

It all makes a lot of parents and some young riders nervous.

"I'm not sure I'll let my kids go again," said one mother on the boardwalk.

"If it happened once it could happen to anyone," said Seth Calandro.

This summer, across the country, it seems to be happening a lot. Including Saturday night's accident, four people have been killed, and more than 70 injured in amusement park mishaps. August 22nd, a 12-year old boy was killed in a free-fall ride at Great America in Santa Clara, California. The next day, a man died after falling from a stand up roller coaster at King's Dominion in Virginia.

A spokesman for amusement parks and attractions says the industry is saddened, but insists the industry is a remarkably safe one.

This New Jersey amusement park re-opened late today, but this ride won't be running again here this summer, and maybe not ever.