Kings Island has dealt with safety issues, made improvements in past decades

Riders in 2020 enjoy the then new wooden roller coaster Mystic Timbers at Kings Island. Ride and other safety aspects has always been a top priority since the amusement park opened in 1972. The park is celebrating its 50th anniversary.  PHOTO BY GREG LYNCH/Journal-News

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Riders in 2020 enjoy the then new wooden roller coaster Mystic Timbers at Kings Island. Ride and other safety aspects has always been a top priority since the amusement park opened in 1972. The park is celebrating its 50th anniversary. PHOTO BY GREG LYNCH/Journal-News

For millions of visitors over the five decades since Kings Island opened the amusement park has been synonymous with fun — not injury or death.

But like most other amusement parks across the nation that have been in operation for decades, Kings Island has seen both happen on very rare occasions.

The worst day in park history was Sunday, June 9, 1991 when three park visitors died and one was hospitalized.

According to a June 10 Associated Press story, two, 20-year-old men — one of them a Kings Island employee — were electrocuted to death when wading into a small pond in the park.

A third man, who was hospitalized, had gone into the water first and the two men were trying to come to his aid.

A later investigation by park officials and police revealed an exposed electrical line in the pond had killed the two men.

In a separate incident the same evening, according to AP, a woman was killed in a fall from the Flight Commander ride shortly before the park was to close at 10 p.m.

And in 1983 a high school student climbed over a security fence on the park’s Eiffel Tower replica and died after falling down the tower’s elevator shaft.

And in the early 1970s a park employee working in Kings Island’s former “Lion Country Safari” was killed by animals — out of sight of park guests — in the outdoor exhibit area.

In 2006, a total of 27 people were injured when a car on the Son of Beast ride hit a span of track that had separated where timbers splintered on the giant wooden roller coaster in July 2006. The ride was subsequently closed for alterations.

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But these incidents — taking place among the millions who have visited the Warren County amusement park during the last 50 years — are as rare as they are horrific.

Visitor safety has always been the top priority, said Kings Island officials.

As the park’s many thrill rides became more dynamic during the last half-century, so too has the park’s sophistication in applying detailed safety measures to ensure all riders are of the proper ages and heights so to remain securely safe on each ride.

Park ride attendees, signage and announcements alert riders to the severity of the physical jostling of each ride, including warnings for those pregnant, suffering high blood pressure or heart, back or neck trouble and those with recent surgeries to avoid riding.

Moreover, guests are encouraged to access online a guide to thrill level of rides — with a rating of one being the lowest and five the highest — to further their safe enjoyment of park rides.

“Many rides at Kings Island are dynamic and thrilling,” according to a statement from park officials listed in the ride safety information provided to all guests.

“There are inherent risks in riding any amusement ride. For your protection, each ride is rated for its special features, such as high speeds, steep drops, sharp turns, or other dynamic forces,” said officials.

Kings Island also has its own security force — including a camera system — and works closely with local law enforcement to maintain a safe environment for guests.

For safety reasons, said Kings Island Spokesman Chad Showalter, park officials do not publicly discuss details regarding its various security personnel, systems or strategies.

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