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Loose Nut Blamed in 6 Flags Mishap

April 21, 1998

GURNEE, Ill. (AP) _ A loosened nut on a guide wheel is being blamed for an accident that left 23 riders dangling upside down on the Demon roller coaster at the Six Flags Great American amusement park.

The roller coaster became stuck in the middle of a loop Saturday when a wheel that runs inside the track separated from the rear assembly on the last car after the nut loosened, according to officials of the state Department of Labor, which monitors amusement parks. The disengaged rear axle came to rest on the track structure, stopping the ride in its second loop, officials said Monday.

``We regret the inconvenience and anxiety this incident caused the riders and their families,″ said Great America president Jim Wintrode.

Great America officials said they have added a new safety mechanism to the ride and expect the roller coaster to reopen later this week.

In July 1993, eight people were slightly injured on the same ride when faulty switches failed to activate brakes.

Saturday’s accident, which occurred during a private outing for U.S. Steel employees, was the third roller coaster mishap at Six Flags in the last 10 months.

On Sept. 7, four people were injured when cars on the American Eagle roller coaster collided at the end of the ride.

On June 24, a 14-year-old boy lost part of his right hand while on a ride called the Viper. Park officials blamed the boy because his arm was outside the ride, a violation of the park’s rule, and became pinned between the platform and car.

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