Safety of amusement parks in Colorado examined

Posted on: 8:57 pm, July 22, 2013, by , updated on: 10:12pm, July 22, 2013

DENVER — The death of a Texas woman at a Six Flags amusement park in Texas has the investigative unit at FOX31 Denver asking questions about your safety at some of the popular parks throughout Colorado.

In Colorado, the last major accident happened at Tiny Town in Morrison. 15 people were hurt when a train engine and five cars tipped over on August 11, 2010.

The Colorado Department of Labor, which oversees investigations into amusement ride accidents, originally fined the owner $30,500, but that was later reduced to $5,000. The investigation revealed the company failed to train its operator properly.

See story: Woman falls to her death on Texas roller coaster

9 Ride Operators Fined in Colorado in 2013

According to state records obtained by FOX31 Denver, nine operators were fined by the state agency this year. Records show the majority were because operators failed to renew their licenses. Only one, Amaze Adventure, faced a fine after someone was injured going through a maze in Heritage Square.

The owner, Greg Gallavan, said he was just made aware of the $1,000 fine, but didn’t want to comment for this story.

“These rides in Colorado, operate safely in Colorado; very, very safely,” said Scott Narreau, Program Director for the Colorado Department of Labor.

Colorado has 1 Field Inspector

He told FOX31 Denver the state has only one field inspector and it’s up to individual operators to inspect rides daily. “It comes down to resources. We are a self-funded program. We receive money from the industry, so everyone operating a device pays their application fees and that’s what really pays for our program,” Narreau said.

The state requires licensed operators, more than 100 of them, to do an annual inspection with a third-party inspection company. Those companies must be approved by the state.

If there is an injury because of the ride or a complaint, Narreau said his office will investigate immediately.

Trade Group Claims Safety

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, a trade group representing amusement parks, describes them as “one of the safest forms of recreation available to the public.”

“Approximately 297 million guests visit the 400 U.S. amusement parks annually and take 1.7 billion safe rides,” the association says on its website.

Visitors of fixed-site amusement parks — places where rides are permanently attached to the ground — have a 1 in 24 million chance of being seriously injured, the association said.