CARS collide on Superman roller coaster at Six Flags New England; at least 22 injured

Tuesday, August 7th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

AGAWAM, Mass. (AP) _ For the second time in as many weeks, riders at a New England amusement park were injured in a roller coaster accident.

Twenty-two people were sent to hospitals, mostly with minor injuries, after two cars collided Monday on the Superman Ride of Steel roller coaster at Six Flags New England.

The park remained open through the evening but the ride, one of the park's seven roller coasters, was closed.

``It was like the car that slammed into us never even slowed down,'' said crash victim Mattie Nichols of Hampden. ``My neck hurts, but it could have been worse.''

There were a few broken bones, facial cuts and bruises but most of the injuries were minor, said Deputy Fire Chief David S. Walles said.

Witnesses said one train of cars was leaving the platform when a second slammed it from behind.

``It sounded like a big balloon popping,'' said Ariel Rosenthal, 17, visiting from Israel. He was waiting in line to get on the ride with a few family members when the crash happened. ``There was some smoke, and I saw blood on someone's face.''

The 5,400-foot Superman ride, which opened in May 2000, has a maximum height of 208 feet and reaches speeds of up to 80 mph, according to the Six Flags Web site.

Dean O'Keefe, director of marketing for the amusement park, said ride engineers from Six Flags, as well as the company who made the roller coaster, were investigating the accident.

Five people were injured July 27 when two cars collided on the Yankee Cannonball roller coaster at Canobie Lake Park in Salem, N.H. That accident was blamed on human error.

In another park accident, a maintenance worker was killed June 13 when he was hit by the Boulder Dash roller coaster at the Lake Compounce amusement park in Bristol, Conn.

The next day, the Zoomerang roller coaster failed to stop at the correct location, and 26 people were stuck for over 90 minutes before firefighters were able to bring them down.

Massachusetts is one of 14 states without a state-administered inspection program for parks.