Roller-coaster hits, critically injures trespassing park guest in Ohio

A 38-year-old man was struck and critically injured by the Banshee roller-coaster at Kings Island amusement park in Mason, Ohio on June 19, 2024. Instagram @kingsislandpr

A 38-year-old man was critically injured at an Ohio amusement park on Wednesday after police said he crossed into a restricted area and was hit by a roller-coaster.

Local authorities said the unnamed man was struck by the Banshee roller-coaster at Mason, Ohio’s Kings Island amusement park around 8 p.m. local time. Mason police told WCPO Cincinnati the park guest was critically injured in the collision.

The man, an Ohio native, reportedly told a greeter at the Banshee ride that he lost a personal item in the area around the coaster and needed back on the ride to find it. Police said the man was searching for his keys. The employee told the park guest he would have to wait until the ride closed to find them.

Despite the greeter’s warning, a witness said the man lingered close to the coaster before crossing through a restricted gate. The witness said the injured man was dressed similarly to Kings Island staff members, so some assumed he was also an employee when he crossed into the gated area.

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The man was struck by the coaster, which travels at 109 kilometres per hour. A witness told WCPO the sound of the collision was akin to hitting a deer.

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First responders were called to the scene and the man was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for treatment.

One emergency response personnel told WLWT the man suffered “massive head trauma.”

As of Thursday morning, the struck guest was still in critical condition. An operator for Banshee said riders on the coaster were “very distraught” after the incident “because they knew something happened.”

The operator, who was not named by WLWT, said the struck man “wouldn’t stop exclaiming and yelling” about his lost keys prior to the incident.

“He actually got back in line and unbeknownst to us at the time he entered through the gate,” they described. The employee said it is “extremely important” that park guests heed safety warnings.

“They are there for a reason,” the employee said. “If you don’t listen to them, things like this are likely to happen, especially in the presence of intense and speedy rides like that.”

In a statement, Kings Island said the park’s “focus continues to be on the welfare of the guest and his family.”

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WCPO reported ride inspectors from the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s division of amusement ride safety and fairs visited the park Thursday, one day after the collision, to assess the coaster.

The Banshee, the world’s longest steel inverted roller-coaster, has remained closed during the investigation.

Thrill-seekers have long flocked to the Banshee since its opening in 2014. The three-minute coaster ride features exhilarating zero-gravity rolls and a 50-metre drop.

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