Amusement park deaths uncommon in Colorado, but they do happen

Data Desk

DENVER (KDVR) — Deaths in Colorado amusement parks are rare, but they do happen.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is closed following the death of a 6-year-old girl on the Haunted Mine Drop ride Sunday.

According to amusement park records, these kinds of deaths are exceptionally uncommon. Colorado amusement parks have only recorded a small number.

At least three people have died in accidents at Elitch Gardens, but they were not due to machine or ride malfunctions.

Only one of those deaths happened to a park patron. A man who was part of a group of mentally-challenged individuals undid his safety harnesses and fell to his death in May 2002. The other two deaths happened to workers. An acrobat died from a stunt in 2006, and an employee died after entering a restricted ride area in 1997.

Other large Colorado amusement parks have recorded deaths. Water World recorded its first and only death in 2009 when paramedics pulled a 48-year old man out of the water and were unable to revive him.

Nationally, ride-related injuries are uncommon and have been trending broadly downward over the last two decades.

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions keeps statistics on fixed-site park injuries, this means it only includes parks that do not travel, such as carnivals, fairs or inflatables.

A 2019 survey of 177 participating U.S. and Canadian amusement parks, however, show injuries are rare.

In 2003, the IAAPA estimated 2,044 ride-related injuries. Since 2009, that number has hovered at an average 1,200-1,300 per year.

The organization estimated one ride-related injury for every million rides in 2003. Like the total number of accidents, the rate dropped since 2003.

Serious injuries are even more rare. Of the 1,294 injuries recorded in 2019, only 82 required immediate hospitalization.

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