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Amusement Park Death Investigated

March 20, 2002

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ An amusement park ride from which a woman fell to her death did not have adequate restraints or operating instructions, according to a state report released Tuesday.

The report from the Division of Occupational Safety and Health ordered Knott’s Berry Farm theme park to modify the boat ride, which has been closed since the woman died Sept. 21.

Lori Mason-Larez fell from the Perilous Plunge, which has a 121-foot drop, because of factors including the position of the restraints, the motion of the boats, and her size, the report found.

Mason-Larez, 40, of Duarte, weighed 292 pounds and was 5 feet, 8 inches tall. Sandor Kernacs, president of ride manufacturer Intamin Ltd., has said Mason-Larez was too large for the ride.

Kernacs told safety officials he gave Knott’s workers special instructions on ensuring the safety of larger people on the ride. But Knott’s officials said his training covered only what was in the manufacturer’s manual, the report said.

A call seeking comment from Intamin was not returned Tuesday.

Knott’s Berry Farm officials said in a faxed statement that they had reviewed the report would ``continue to work with the ride manufacturer to implement the state agency’s recommendations.″

The family of Mason-Larez, a mother of five, sued the theme park, its owner, Cedar Fair LP, and Intamin. Family attorney Marc S. Feldman said the report was ``very favorable for our case.″

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