German Tourist at Disney World Dies After an Amusement Ride
A 49-year-old woman who had become ill at Disney World after going on an amusement ride that simulates a space launching died Wednesday.
The woman, identified by the medical examiner's office of Orange County, Fla., as Hiltrud Bleumel, a tourist from Schmitten, Germany, took the four-minute ride Tuesday, grew dizzy and nauseated, and was hospitalized, Disney officials said. She soon became comatose.
Ms. Bleumel was the second person in less than a year to die after taking the ride, Mission: Space, on which passengers experience twice the force of gravity. Last June a 4-year-old boy collapsed while on the ride with his mother and sister. A subsequent autopsy showed that he had suffered from a rare, undiagnosed heart ailment.
It is not known whether Ms. Bleumel had some underlying medical problem that might have been worsened by the ride. An autopsy is scheduled for today, the medical examiner's office said.
A representative of the park said in a statement yesterday that Disney engineers, monitored by state regulators, "completed a thorough inspection of the attraction" overnight Wednesday "and found it to be operating properly." It reopened yesterday.
Mission: Space, in the Epcot section of the park, is so challenging that airline-type motion sickness bags are made available to riders, some of whom complain of dizziness and nausea after it is over. A warning sign posted outside the attraction cautions some people, including heart patients and pregnant women, not to ride.
The Orlando Sentinel said yesterday that a review of ambulance records showed that of 8.6 million people who took the ride before the death of the boy last June, 143 sought medical attention.
Rob Jacobs, chief of the Florida Bureau of Fair Rides Inspection, said he himself had felt ill after riding Mission: Space, which opened in August 2003.
"It is simulating liftoff, so it just depends on your intestinal fortitude and how you can stand up to these things," Mr. Jacobs said. "It's a G-force issue."