Kiddie Train Derails in SC and kills a child

3/22/11 - Operator admits he was driving "too fast".
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Kiddie Train Derails in SC and kills a child

Postby gonecrzyNSC » Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:34 am

Kiddie train wreck kills 1, sends several others to the hospital.

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- The weekend crash of a amusement train ride has left a 6-year-old dead, several children hospitalized and children's train rides across the state of South Carolina shut down.

Six children remain in hospitals following Saturday's deadly amusement train crash in Cleveland Park in Spartanburg. (Full Story)

The train ran off the track on a curve, but investigators have still not determined what caused the derailment. The cars overturned, dumping passengers into a rocky creek bed.

Greenville Hospital System said three from the wreck were still being treated in the Greenville Children's Hospital, the regional children's hospital.

Spartanburg Regional Medical Center said three children were still in the hospital there.

The injured children suffered broken bones, lacerations and head injuries. No information was available on the condition status of the children, but witnesses said that some of the children were seriously injured.

Corinth Baptist Pastor Dwight Easler was released Monday. He suffered a broken ankle and several lacerations on his head. His wife was kept at the hospital for observation overnight after the accident because she is eight months pregnant, but did not suffer serious injuries.

The Easlers' son, 6-year-old Benjamin Samuel Easler, died in the accident, Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger said .

Members of Corinth Baptist and Central Baptist Church in Gaffney were on the train at the time of the wreck.

Crash Survivors Describe Horrifying Wreck

Elena Calhoun said she was on the train with her 3-year-old niece and 11-year-old nephew.

"I hit the ground pretty hard, and I went tumbling down, and I hit the rocks down there," she said.

Calhoun's nephew, Rodney Morrison, said, "I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I'm going to die!'" Calhoun described the scene around her after the wreck.

"It was just, everybody screaming. There was blood pouring from people's heads. A couple of kids were not breathing. There was another child that had his leg from the knee down, pretty much gone," she said.

Calhoun said she had to lift one of the cars so that her niece could crawl free.

Her nephew said, "She probably had her adrenaline pumping."

Calhoun and her niece and nephew were released from the hospital on Saturday with scratches and bruises, but no serious injuries.

Samantha Blackwell, 10, was also on the train with friends when it ran off the rails.

"It was like the third time around, and it was going really fast and then it just completely flipped over and the wheels just stayed on the track," Samantha said.

"I immediately jumped up and I started just screaming and I went to call my momma," she said.

Samantha suffered only bumps and bruises.

Herman Howell said he saw the wreck from his porch across the street. He said he called 911 and ran to help.

"There was just a lot of kids crying and a lot of kids bruising and bleeding over there," Howell said.

He said he helped pull out one boy who was unconscious and bleeding from the mouth.

"I got one that they was working on, the one they had to do CPR on," he said. "Yeah, he was in pretty bad shape."

"I just wish I could have done more," he said.

Train Passed Inspection Week Before Wreck

Jeff Caton, Director of Spartanburg Parks Commission, said the train, nicknamed Sparkles, has been in operation for 58 years. He said it had passed a Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation inspection on Wednesday. Caton said the train was running for the first time since that inspection. Caton said the train holds 30 riders and does not have seat belts.

LLR spokeswoman Lesia Kudelka said, "LLR is aware of the accident and is responding per our protocols."

Caton said the train conductor, Matt Conrad, was taken to the hospital. A spokesman for Spartanburg Regional Medical Center said Conrad was treated and released.

Spartanburg Public Safety is investigating and has called in the South Carolina Highway Patrol to assist in the reconstruction of the wreck.

LLR notified all children’s train ride operators statewide Monday morning that all train rides are shut down pending the outcome of the Spartanburg investigation, according to Greenville Parks and Recreation officials.
Last edited by SharkTums on Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:38 am.

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Re: Kiddie Train Derails in SC and kills a child

Postby Snowboard246 » Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:10 am

That train must have been going fast, it doesn't look like a sharp turn.

Sad story though :( prayers go out to the families of the injured.
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Re: Kiddie Train Derails in SC and kills a child

Postby webgoof » Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:32 am

worth noting: this is not a coaster, but one of the small trains you see at zoos and parks everywhere...
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Re: Kiddie Train Derails in SC and kills a child

Postby SharkTums » Mon Mar 21, 2011 10:44 am

It seems odd the amount of accidents with these kiddie trains compared to 'real' rides. Truly terrible story.

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Re: Kiddie Train Derails in SC and kills a child

Postby Gigalyte » Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:55 pm

Sad to here this especially when it involves children.

There to much human control on these trains imo they should have some type of limiter like they have in Cars to keep from going excessive speeds, I wonder if it's possible to implement something like that on these rides.

At least on a Rollercoaster the ops only have control of certain aspects of the ride, they don't have the option of humm let's crank the speed up to the max and see what happens.

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Re: Kiddie Train Derails in SC and kills a child

Postby Stephen G » Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:30 pm

I would doubt excessive speed was the cause, after working on miniature railroads for a number of years, Almost all of them are geared to the point that they will stay under a certain speed. These trains were built by Allan Herschell in the mid fifty's, these engines can only achieve 8 to 12 mph depending on how many cars/weight you are pulling, unlike a roller coaster all that holds these on the track is there weight, sadly many states only have regulations on the engines/cars them selves and not the track work "Imagine only inspecting the coaster train and none of the other features on a ride" although this system appears to be kept to class 1 standards and that is most likely no the case my guess would be a flange failure of the lead truck on the engine due to metal fatigue or something such as a rock or other object on the track.
this is sad to hear and I hope better regulations will come from this across the country.
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Re: Kiddie Train Derails in SC and kills a child

Postby derek_lentz » Mon Mar 21, 2011 11:37 pm

gonecrzyNSC wrote:Kiddie train wreck kills 1, sends several others to the hospital.
Train Passed Inspection Week Before Wreck

Jeff Caton, Director of Spartanburg Parks Commission, said the train, nicknamed Sparkles, has been in operation for 58 years. He said it had passed a Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation inspection on Wednesday. Caton said the train was running for the first time since that inspection. Caton said the train holds 30 riders and does not have seat belts.

NOPE
The inspector has been fired. He says that he never completed the inspection.
Agency: SC train ride inspector faked report
The ride was reportedly inspected by Donnie Carrigan, but he admitted falsifying a report in which he marked the train's operation at proper speed as "satisfactory," according to Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation chief Catherine Templeton.

Carrigan, a 20-year agency employee who has been fired, said he didn't test the ride March 16 because its battery was dead, making it inoperable, according to Templeton. The battery was replaced Saturday morning, Spartanburg Parks Commission spokeswoman Nisha Patel said.

"Unfortunately the inspector did not complete his job," Templeton said.

Templeton also said Carrigan's national certification had lapsed, and he would have been required to attend a retraining session in late April with six other LLR employees.

As soon as agency officials learned of the crash, Templeton said Carrigan came forward and said he had filed a complete report but had not done a thorough inspection.
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Re: Kiddie Train Derails in SC and kills a child

Postby SharkTums » Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:37 am

Driver Admits He Was Operating Deadly Train Ride Too FastThe video, obtained exclusively by ABC News, was shot by a child on board the "Sparky" ride at Cleveland Park in Spartanburg, S.C., and shows the train speeding up moments before Saturday's accident.

"I was going too (expletive) fast," driver Matt Conrad told police, according to an incident report.

Conrad told cops "he knew better than to drive the train that fast."

Conrad said he typically "would go slow on the first lap, go a bit faster on the second lap and it was on the third lap around the track when he opened it up to go faster."

"Mr. Conrad said that when he crossed onto the bridge he felt the back end of the engine come off the track and the next thing he knew he was off the rails and into the creek," according to the police report.

There were 28 passengers on the train when it derailed, including children and adults ranging between the ages of 3 to 54, according to police.

Benji Easler, 6, was visiting the park with a group from Corinth Baptist Church, where his father, Dwight Easler is pastor, when he was killed in the accident.

"We have no idea why it derailed but it seemed to be going a little fast according to those on board," the church said in a statement.

The train had operated at the park for more than 50 years and had run several test laps the morning of the accident.

The ride opened several weeks early because to the warm weather.

Meanwhile, a state inspector came forward Monday to admit that he had falsified the ride's latest safety report, saying he ran the train March 16 when it actually had a dead battery. The inspector was fired.

Police said Tuesday that they had not completed their investigation and had not concluded that Conrad's driving was to blame for the incident.

"We cannot analyze the entire incident based on a single uttered statement," police said in a statement to ABC affiliate WSPA-TV. "At this point we have not reached a conclusion as to the technical or mechanical findings of the investigation. The statement, while important to the investigation, does not provide conclusive evidence of the actual speed or the functionally of the train or tracks," police said in a statement to ABC affiliate WSPA-TV.

Officials said there was no evidence that the train or track had been sabotaged.

Several similar train rides manufactured by the same company and operated across the state have been closed pending a conclusion in the investigation, state authorities said.

"This is a terrible tragedy," said David Britt, a member of the Spartanburg City Council. "The incident is still under investigation. But we will soon hopefully get to the bottom of what happened."


Video of the train going way too fast and derailing here: http://abcnews.go.com/US/exclusive-video-child-tapes-sc-train-ride-speeding/story?id=13194888&page=1

The video is a bit disturbing, I've been on fast kiddie trains before, but wow. That operator was REALLY hauling around the track and then look what happens.

Another terrible operator error accident.

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Re: Kiddie Train Derails in SC and kills a child

Postby Brandy524 » Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:47 am

Wow. That video is really terrifying. What in the world was that operator thinking to make that train go that fast? And now a child is dead and many people are injured because of his carelessness.
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Re: Kiddie Train Derails in SC and kills a child

Postby the ghost » Tue Mar 22, 2011 1:16 pm

Jesus Christ! That thing looked like it was hauling... so much so that the kids were screaming throughout the ride like it was a coaster. I sort of wish there was off ride footage or something so I could put it in perspective of how fast it was actually going, but that pov made it look dangerously fast. I've said it before and I'll say it again as much as I dont like saying it, but I dont really trust fair rides. Sure... I'll ride the flats and things like that that seem safe and are generally pretty accident free, but there are tons of things at fairs I simply will not do, and this is why. It's not like a theme park or something... fairs already have a relatively "bad" safety performance, and many fairs do not seem to really regulate fair workers or check fair workers well. Case in point, I have had fair ops who sort of look at my restraint on rides, but dont really seem to be checking it. Anyway, my thoughts and prayers go out to those that were injured as well as all of the familys of the victims.

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