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Report Cites N.J. Roller Coaster

March 16, 2000

OCEAN CITY, N.J. (AP) _ A roller coaster malfunctioned and injured two passengers just 75 minutes before a mother and daughter were killed on the same ride last summer, The Press of Atlantic City reported today.

Despite warnings by the injured passengers that the ride had malfunctioned, the operators did not shut down the roller coaster until after the second accident, the newspaper said.

Park operator Gillian’s Wonderland Pier and roller coaster manufacturer Zamperla Co. of Italy both deny responsibility for the Aug. 28 accident on the Wild Wonder ride.

Kim Bailey, 39, and her daughter, Jessica, 8, of New York were killed when the coaster car they were riding in plunged backward down a steep incline and rounded a curve, ejecting them.

Gillian’s Wonderland Pier was fined $25,000 in February for safety violations related to the fatal accident, and the manufacturer was fined $30,000.

``I told this guy over and over again, ’You have to stop this ride,‴ said Alexis McCann of Swarthmore, Pa., who was injured along with her daughter. ``I wanted to make him promise to stop the ride,″ she told The Press.

An accident report filed by Gillian’s with the state Department of Community Affairs on Aug. 30 indicated that McCann and her daughter, Katy, told employees that the coaster car they were in ``went forward and back about five times″ in the middle of the ride.

But Park General Manager Jay Gillian Ferris said park personnel did not believe the ride was dangerous.

``If the ride was unsafe, we would have closed it down,″ he told the newspaper.

McCann said she suffered shoulder and neck injuries and her daughter bumped her head on the seat back and was bleeding slightly.

Community Affairs spokesman E.J. Miranda said the park was not legally obligated to close the ride after the McCann accident, although it had to notify the community affairs department about any injuries that require first aid.

McCann said that, just before 10 p.m. Aug. 28, she rejoined her husband and another daughter and saw that the Wonder Ride was still operating. A few minutes later, she said she watched in horror as the ride malfunctioned again.

``We saw the car hit the other car at the bottom. I looked up and saw everyone grabbing their kids and running away from the ride,″ McCann said. ``It didn’t even hit me until the next day. I was horrified. I hadn’t realized anyone had been killed.″

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