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Corrosion Eyed in FL Coaster Derailment

Thursday, June 28, 2018

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Corrosion was reportedly one of the issues that kept the Sandblaster roller coaster on Daytona Beach shut down for more than a month before an accident earlier in June that injured nine riders.

Daytona boardwalk
nick hoke, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Sandblaster (center-left, next to Ferris wheel) had been shut down serveral times over the past five years, including for nearly a month in May and June immediately prior to a June 14 incident that injured nine riders.

The 43-year-old ride, moved to the Daytona Beach Boardwalk in 2013 from its previous location in Delaware, has been shut down numerous times over structural and safety concerns, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal. That includes a shutdown that began May 17 and ended June 14; hours after the ride was cleared to reopen that day, a three-car train derailed, sending nine people to the hospital, including two thrown 34 feet to the ground.

Coastal Air Concerns

At least five of the victims are now working with attorney Matt Morgan on the matter. Morgan is working with amusement-ride safety consultants from Avery Safety Consulting Inc. on an investigation into the cause of the failure; Brian and Bill Avery are reportedly looking into corrosion as a factor given the proximity to the ocean.

The News-Journal reports that the owners of the ride had planned to remove it later this year.

According to information on the American Galvanizers Association website, the structural framework of the Sandblaster was treated with a hot-dip galvanized coating in 2013 to protect it from the corrosive salt air, but images of the coaster after the incident show corrosion on the cars themselves, and witnesses who were on the boardwalk the day of the derailment say they saw workers welding what they later determined to be the coaster’s braking system.

There is no evidence that the framework of the structure was compromised.

The ride, made in 1975, has had several homes over the years, including in Illinios, Pennsylvania and Delaware, before ending up at Daytona Beach, according to Orlando Weekly.

State Investigation

In addition to a local police investigation, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, whose Bureau of Fair Rides Inspection oversees amusement ride safety, is investigating. The same agency cleared the ride for operation in the hours prior to the derailment.

“Just yesterday, department inspectors conducted a thorough inspection of the ride, and it was found in compliance with state law,” spokesperson Jennifer Meale said in a statement the day after the incident. “We have launched an investigation to determine the cause of the accident, and anyone who should be held accountable will be held accountable.”

The agency has not released any information subsequently.

Ohio Incident

Last summer, corrosion-related cracking was blamed for a fatal incident at the Ohio State Fair, in which a gondola on a spinning ride broke, killing one rider and injuring seven other fairgoers. Charges were not filed against the operators of that ride, but lawsuits are still pending on behalf of the victims.


Tagged categories: Corrosion; Corrosion protection; Salt-laden air

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