Cedar Point Top Thrill Dragster victim identified as Rachel Hawes


(Editor’s note: One version of this story briefly indicated the incorrect size of the object in this incident.)

State investigations indicate that the piece of metal that struck a Cedar Point guest queuing for the park’s Top Thrill Dragster was about the size of a “man’s hand.”

The accident left a 44-year-old Michigan woman identified as Rachel Hawes in intensive care with a brain injury, according to a family statement posted on a Cleveland TV station.

“We are devastated by the accident last weekend at Cedar Point,” the statement said. “We want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers during this time. Rachel is fighting for her life and we ask for privacy at this difficult time.”

The news came eight days after the horrific incident at the Sandusky Amusement Park that lined up for safety and Hawes was seriously injured on August 15.

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The Top Thrill Dragster, which remains closed to visitors at Cedar Point, goes from a standstill at 120 mph in just 3.8 seconds and over a 420-foot-high hill in 17 seconds.

David Miran, the head of rides for the Ohio Department of Agriculture, announced Monday that the part that came loose is an “L” bracket attached to the back of the wagon designed to resemble a dragster.

The mount that was secured with bolts is believed to hover just above the runway and a series of sensors that monitor the coaster as it progresses at breakneck speed and up a 420-foot-high hill in 17 seconds. . The trip goes from standstill to 120 mph in just 3.8 seconds.

At one point in her descent, Miran said, the carrier made contact with the coaster’s track and tore itself from the “green” coaster train and hit the woman on the head as she stood in line. .

The investigation revealed that half of the bolts that secured the bracket to the train body had also dislodged.

The area of ​​the track brake bracket, which slows the cars at the end of the trip, showed signs of impact and was bent with several horizontal track beams about 25 feet from the damaged brake bracket.

Cedar Point victim identified

Miran said ahead of Monday afternoon’s press briefing he contacted the woman’s family to update them on the status of the investigation into what was wrong with the roller coaster that exists. since 2003.

The state released the initial one-page incident report on Monday, which identified the victim as Hawes of Swartz Creek, Mich., Near Flint. She was first taken to Firelands Medical Center, but later transported to St. Vincent Hospital in Toledo.

The report said she had an “unknown type of head injury”.

Cedar Point’s Top Thrill Dragster remains closed as investigation continues. The park has already announced that it will not reopen this year.

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Miran said the steel track itself shows signs of damage where the bracket made contact as the roller coaster came down the hill.

He couldn’t speculate how fast the train was moving when the part dislodged, but added that it was probably at the “maximum” speed of the trip.

Coaster passed state inspection in May

Prior to the accident, the Top Thrill Dragster was last inspected by the state on May 14 and no major issues were found.

The inspection, however, revealed some issues that needed improvement to bring the route into compliance.

These changes included hydraulic upgrades, an upgrade to the hydraulic propulsion system and repairs to the # 2 Black Cherry car rear right rear cover bar cylinder soft repair and a cover bar cylinder creep test. .

These improvements were made and the ride was found to be compliant on May 15.

Cedar Point is responsible for making daily inspections of its rides.

Miran said the green train car and other evidence has been sent to a lab for further investigation.

“It’s a very complicated race,” he said.

When it opened in 2003, Top Thrill Dragster was the tallest and fastest coaster in the world, but those records were broken in 2005 by the Kingda Ka coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey.

From the start, the roller coaster plagued with issues that led to its frequent closures as the park struggled with its complicated hydraulic system.

There have been other incidents involving the roller coaster that have resulted in injuries, but none are as serious as the last one.

Four guests on the roller coaster were injured in 2004 when they were struck by shards of metal from a wire rope during the launch. None of the injuries were life threatening.

And in 2016, two guests were injured when a launch cable came loose from the coaster.

Craig Webb can be reached at [email protected]


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