Lake Delton Police: Operator error suspected in child's crash - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Lake Delton Police: Operator error suspected in child's thrill ride crash

LAKE DELTON (WKOW) -- Lake Delton Police officials said their investigation has found that a ride a 12-year-old girl was critically injured on last week involved suspected operator error.

Teagan Marti, 12, of Parkland, FL, was injured on the free fall, Terminal Velocity ride at Extreme World.   UW Hospital officials list Marti in critical condition.

Lake Delton police chief Thomas Dorner said a 33-year old attendant accompanied the girl as she was elevated to the top of the ride Friday.    Dorner said when Marti was released to the ride's free fall,  the release took place less than the approximately 140 feet height of the ride.

Dorner said the landing net is elevated at the same time as the ride platform.

"Investigation has revealed that when Teagan was released, she was only approx. 100 feet above the ground, and that the landing net was still fully on the ground, with only the tube around the net being inflated."

"The ride attendant at the to look down at the ground, inspect the drop area for any problems, and then look down at the ground attendant for an exchange of arm signals, to indicate the release platform and landing net are at the proper height for the release, and it has been determined this was not done."

During an interview with WKOW27 News, Extreme World owner Bill Anderson declined to comment on the investigation's findings, but defended the safety practices at his amusement park.

"Our rides are inspected thoroughly every single day,"   Anderson told WKOW27 News.

"Check with the state, they come in here, they look over my inspection records.   We have been in business seventeen years and we've never experienced anything like this."

Wisconsin Department of Commerce officials said no problems were cited during a June 28 inspection of Terminal Velocity.

Sauk County court records show a lawsuit was filed against Extreme World over a patron's injuries as the result of alleged brake failure of a go-cart from a park ride in July 2006.

Anderson said there had been "minor" problems involving that ride, but said the safety experience of Extreme World was little different than other, similar thrill ride parks.

Court records also show a foreclosure action on Extreme World's property and ride equipment, with a sheriff's sale scheduled Sept. 7.   State records also show tax delinquencies attributed to Extreme World of at least $47,000.

Anderson told WKOW27 News financial problems have not impacted park operation.

"We never, ever cut corners, no matter what."

WKOW27 News was unable to obtain information on park employee safety training and standards.

Dorner said the attendant involved in the girl's ill-fated ride was a "long term" employee.

Dorner said his department's investigation would be forwarded to the Sauk County District Attorney.   Dormer said the D.A.'s review would look at whether any negligence "might rise to a criminal level."

Anderson re-opened Extreme World less than forty eight hours after the girl's tragic ride, but Terminal Velocity remains closed, although Anderson said he planned to re-open it.

"I'm not trying to hide anything,"   Anderson said about his operation.   "I just want to girl to be okay."

A UW Hospital spokesperson said the girl's father and a family spokesperson would brief reporters on Marti's condition and what happened Tuesday morning.



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