A teen-aged worker was struck and killed while operating a kiddie roller-coaster on Long Island _ the third fatal accident at an amusement park in New York this month, police said Wednesday.
Stephen Gary, 18, of North Babylon, died at about 5 a.m. Wednesday at Nassau University Medical Center from internal injuries after being struck by the Lady Bug Roller Coaster the night before, said Paul Gentile, the general manager of the Adventureland Amusement Park .
The accident happened at about 10:45 p.m. Tuesday while the roller-coaster was operating without passengers, Gentile said.
The coaster had just let passengers off and was traveling about 5 mph toward a pickup point for new riders further down the track when it struck Gary, said Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick, commander of the Suffolk County homicide squad. It was not clear how or why Gary was on the track; police said it was not required for him to be on the track to operate the ride.
Part of the front car, which Fitzpatrick said weighed "well more than several hundred pounds," ended up pinning Gary beneath the ride.
The park spokesman called Gary a "wonderful kid" and noted that he had worked at Adventureland for two years and had been operating the Lady Bug ride for several months.
Besides detectives from the Suffolk County homicide squad, investigators from federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the state Labor Department were at the park on Wednesday; OSHA was expected to lead the probe because the death is considered an "industrial accident," officials said.
Gentile said the roller-coaster has been at Adventureland for eight years, and approximately 150,000 people ride it annually. He said there had never been an incident or problem with the ride previously.
It was the third death of a person at an amusement park in New York state this month.
Last week, a worker died while setting up midway rides at the New York State Fair in Syracuse. Eric Frigin, a full-time employee of James E. Strates Shows, was working under a ride called The Enterprise when the supports shifted and the ride fell on top of him.
Earlier this month, a 7-year-old boy died at Playland Amusement Park in Rye after he slipped through a 14-inch-wide gap in the Ye Old Mill boat ride's floor and became wedged under its conveyor belts.
Robert Lillpopp, a spokesman with the state Department of Labor, said the Lady Bug will be reinspected before it is allowed to resume operations, but he did not estimate when that would be. The rest of Adventureland Amusement Park remained open.
Source : Newsday