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View Full Version : OC Register article 10/3/BTM accident


jlima
10-04-2003, 12:21 AM
This is on the OCR's website. I have no comment other than I'm speechless:


Disney crash reports released
Police say employees noticed an odd noise before the fatal train accident.

By CHRIS KNAP and MICHELE HIMMELBERG
The Orange County Register


Disneyland employees heard an unusual clacking noise coming from the wheels of Big Thunder Mountain train No. 2 on the morning of Sept. 5 and planned to pull it out of service when it returned to the station, a ride operator told investigators from the Anaheim Police Department.

But the train never returned to the station.

The locomotive that leads the train lost a "bogie"- the assembly that carries the rear wheels - derailed, decoupled from the rest of the train, and struck the roof of Safety Tunnel One, according to reports by Anaheim police and the county coroner's office.

The first passenger car ran underneath the airborne locomotive. The bottom of the locomotive fatally struck the head and chest of Marcelo Torres, 22, the coroner's report said. Ten other riders were injured.

The Anaheim police and the coroner's office released investigative reports Thursday on the crash of the Disneyland attraction and the death of Torres of Gardena.

Anaheim police found no evidence of any criminal activity but did not come to any conclusion about the cause of the crash.

Leslie Goodman, spokeswoman for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said that it is irresponsible to draw any conclusions until the state Division of Occupational Safety & Health has completed its official investigation. DOSH officials have said that could take several more weeks, or longer.

"Given the status of the state's ongoing investigation, it would be irresponsible for us to respond to piecemeal information, or to speculate about possible causes of the accident," Goodman said. "We hope that the public and the media will refrain from drawing conclusions until all the facts are gathered and the investigation is complete."

Anaheim police released a 62-page investigative report but "redacted," or blacked out, the names and statements of every witness. The Register was able to piece the story together using the coroner's report, additional documents and interviews.

Anaheim City Attorney Jack White said the deletions were made because the city is not required to release all the details of its interviews.

Wylie Aitken, the attorney for the Torres family, said he was frustrated that the police closed their investigation without determining the cause of the accident.

"I'm puzzled as to why it is that they would close an investigation until such time as they find out what happened in that tunnel and why that train came off the track," Aitken said. Aitken declined to comment on the remarks by the Disney employees.

The coroner's report said the cause of Torres' death was blunt force trauma to the chest, with rib fractures. The report also details severe blows to his head that cut his forehead down to the bone.

"The death itself was incredibly traumatic, and the manner of it makes it even more difficult to accept," said Aitken.

The investigators' reports, and interviews by The Register, show that a number of people heard an odd sound on the No. 2 train Sept. 5.

Two Disney employees said they heard the clacking, which appeared to come from a wheel at the front of the train, according to the police report.

A ride operator told Anaheim Detective J. Duran the noise "wasn't very loud or very alarming, but he stated that it did not sound right so he decided they should take the train off the next time around.

"He said the train never made it back around for them to remove it from operation," Duran's report says.

Mike Acheson, a Florida resident, told the Register in an interview three days after the accident that he and his son rode the train several times that Friday morning. Sometime after 11 a.m., they boarded again and were waiting in one of the rear train cars when there was a delay.

"A man in white was inspecting the engine portion of the coaster of our train," Acheson said.

"He was in a full jumpsuit with a name badge, an older gentleman with gray hair. ... He was looking at the front engine only. He didn't care about the rest of the train. I don't know if this was the train with the problem, because we don't know what number it was. Then the ride operator instructed us all to get off and board another train."

They rode the train and were waiting in line again, in Row 14, "when a voice came on, saying (something like) "Howdy folks, seems like we've got a slow train. It'll be back up in a couple of minutes so hang tight."

A few minutes later Acheson and others saw passengers who had climbed out of the wrecked train, waving at operators and calling for help.

The coroner's report said the locomotive had obvious damage to the back and top. The roof of the tunnel also showed scrape marks, and several metal pipes were bent.

After the accident, the tracks were strewn with stripped bolts, metal debris and broken cables, according to the coroner's report. Other passengers on the Big Thunder Mountain train pulled Torres out of the car after the accident, the report says.

Torres was the sole passenger in the seat immediately behind the engine, and the front panel of his car was bent backwards into the passenger compartment area, the coroner's report said.

A bystander attempted cardiopulmonary resuscitation, then paramedics arrived and pronounced Torres dead, Anaheim police detectives told the coroner.

mitros
10-04-2003, 02:17 PM
Two things; I guess the operator of the ride is feeling really bad about not stopping the train right then and there when the noise was first heard, and secondly, because of the fact that this has been mentioned, you would have to figure that the CM would be named in a sure to be filed lawsuit. God, it almost sounds like it could have been prevented. :(

wdwguide
10-04-2003, 03:07 PM
That doesn't look very good...

C.Ann
10-04-2003, 03:54 PM
If - and this is still a big if - this information is correct - and one or more CM's heard this unusual noise but decided to let the ride go forward "one more time" before stopping it - then that poor man didn't have to die !!!! His death would have been prevented simply by having the passengers get out of that train..

That's almost too horrible to think about! And the death itself sounds like it was a particularly gruesome one..

Based on the information in that article (if found to be accurate) just the PUNITIVE damages alone could be staggering..

So sad.. I really feel awful for that family.. :(

inkkognito
10-07-2003, 03:02 PM
If memory serves me correctly (and if that is what really happened), it sounds like the same thing that caused a fatal accident on a roller coaster many years back at the indoor mall in Toronto. The wheel assembly failed as the coaster was going upside down through a loop that encircled a walkway. The car derailed, and I believe that people on the walkway were struck and killed, in addition to some people on the coaster. Very, very tragic.
I know that amusement parks overall are very safe and take many precautions to ensure the safety of their guests, but accidents can and do happen. It's like flying...the vast majority of flights are safe, but when an accident occurs, it makes the news and makes everyone a little nervous.
Barb
Visit the Platinum Castaway Club at: www.*****************

KNWVIKING
10-07-2003, 04:16 PM
The article wasn't clear- unless I misread it- but it doesn't say when they heard the noise. Did they hear it as it came in and unloaded and still let it go out one more time, or did they hear it as it was already on its last trip and were going to take it out of service when it returned.

After the train leaves the station, what kind of control does the ride operator have on it ? Could it have been stopped before the failure had the CM's thought the noise was serious enough ?

I feel bad for the two CM's. Hindsight is 20/20. Had they suspected the noise they heard was as serious as it was, I'm sure they would have tried to do more. Unfortunately, there is no tape recording of mechanical noises that you can train a CM to listen for and be able to determine which ones are serious and which ones are nothing.

deusEx
10-07-2003, 05:22 PM
Just to clarify something:

"it sounds like the same thing that caused a fatal accident on a roller coaster many years back at the indoor mall in Toronto"

That indoor mall is in Edmonton, Alberta, not Toronto, Ontario.

Planogirl
10-07-2003, 06:03 PM
What about the man in the white jumpsuit that was inspecting one of the trains? The article is extremely vague about when this man was spotted.

I also wonder how much training the CM's receive about this type of thing? They are certainly not mechanics and how loud or alarming would a noise be particularly considering how noisy the ride is to begin with?

SparkyC
10-08-2003, 12:36 PM
I have had no luck thus far through Google, but has anyone found a way to get the actual police report info.? This information was and is available to the public. I for one would be interested in reading the full report, not the paraphrased version.

Truly terrible for everyone involved in this and their families.

CWIPPERMAN
10-09-2003, 04:13 AM
Just FYI, laws on the release of information vary by State, but generally speaking, when releasing a police report, names, addresses, and statements can be ommitted from a publically released report.

DancingBear
10-09-2003, 07:17 AM
The Anaheim Police Department's website doesn't appear to have a copy of the report posted, but says:

Anaheim Police Department Releases Big Thunder Mountain Investigation Report

ANAHEIM, CA - (October 2, 2003) - The Anaheim Police Department has concluded its investigation into the accident at Disneylandís Big Thunder Mountain Railroad attraction, which occurred on September 5, 2003.

After conducting a thorough and lengthy investigation, the Anaheim Police Department has not found any criminal culpability in this incident.

The State of California Division of Occupational Safety and Health continues to conduct their independent investigation into this accident. For further inquires, please call the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (CAL/OSHA) at (415) 703-5050.

For a copy of the police departmentís investigation report, please contact Rick Martinez at the Anaheim Police Department (714) 765-1521.