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Safety Official Says Amusement Park Deaths Could Have Been Avoided

June 13, 1991

KINGS MILLS, Ohio (AP) _ Two men electrocuted in an amusement park pond probably would be alive today if an inexpensive safety device sold in most hardware stores had been installed, a federal safety official said.

The two men were electrocuted by a faulty electrical pump Sunday at Kings Island Amusement Park while trying to rescue a man who fell into a pond next to the park’s beer garden. The man suffered an electrical shock but survived.

Also Sunday, a woman fell to her death from the park’s Flight Commander ride. That accident was under investigation. Both the ride and the beer garden attractions were closed pending completion of the investigations.

William Murphy, local director of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said that the pond’s aerator pump had been inadequately grounded and had a broken ground prong and an oversized circuit breaker.

The amusement park was not immediately cited for safety violations.

Murphy said a ground fault circuit interrupter, which can shut off electricity in a fraction of a second, could have prevented the electrocutions.

The device, which sells for $8 to $10, is required at all amusement parks that have been built since 1972, Murphy said. Kings Island was built in 1971.

″If that system had been in place and if it had been working, we probably wouldn’t be here today,″ he said.

Killed were Darryl Robertson, 20, of Hamilton, a park security guard, and William Haithcoat, 21, of Cincinnati.

The third man, Tim Binning, 20, of Mariemont, was listed in good condition. Officials of the park northeast of Cincinnati said it wasn’t clear how Binning got into the pond.

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