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2 hurt when roller coaster cable snaps

Friday, September 18, 2009
Xcelerator at Knotts Berry Farm 2 hurt when roller coaster cable snaps

It was a frightening few moments on an Orange County roller coaster when a cable snapped, sending debris onto the riders. The whole thing was caught on tape and posted on the Internet.

It happened on Wednesday at around 4 p.m. on the Xcelerator roller coaster at Knotts Berry Farm. Officials at the park confirm two people were injured. One man was treated and released on Wednesday. A 12-year-old boy was released on Friday.

Four seconds into the ride, a cable snapped. Debris from the cable cut the leg of the boy. A second man (not seen in the video, which was posted to YouTube.com) also complained of neck and back pain, according to George Casario of the Orange County Fire Authority.

Watching the video in slow motion, you can see metal fragments flying at the two riders in front.

Safety experts want to know what caused the accident. Officials with Knott's Berry Farm did not want to go on camera, but in a statement they say, "The cable on the Xcelerator ride is changed regularly. It was last changed in December '08 and is good for one year. It was not due to be changed until this December."

The Xcelerator can go from zero to 82 miles per hour in just over two seconds. Hydraulic motors launch it. It rises and drops more than 200 feet.

The ride remains closed while state safety officials investigate.

Some visitors to the park expressed concern.

"It seems like an exciting ride, but when we heard recently the cable breaking and someone getting hurt, it's kind of concerning," said park visitor Ed Madrid. "Because we have two little kids, and we wonder how safe the rides are around here."

"I don't want to ride it again," said park visitor Arlena Ochoa. "It's kind of scary and sad."

The Xcelerator is made by Intamin AG. The president of Intamin says more than 10 million people have ridden the Xcelerator at Knott's Berry Farm over the past eight years, and this is the first time something like this has happened. However, in 2004 four riders were injured when metal debris came off a launch cable on Intamin's Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point in Ohio, which is a bigger version of the Xcelerator. The injuries in that incident were minor.

Officials at Knott's say they are waiting for a new cable to arrive. Once that's installed, state safety inspectors will have to determine if it is safe to reopen.

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