NJ shuts roller coaster at Six Flags after 19 injured during ride
JACKSON — A roller coaster that was shut for the season early last summer for safety reasons is closed again after 19 passengers were injured Thursday night.
A Six Flags Great Adventures spokesman said five people were sent to a hospital after reporting back pain following a ride on the El Toro roller coaster.
The state Department of Community Affairs, which is responsible for rides and amusement inspections, said that an additional 14 people were treated on site.
Of the five people taken to hospitals one was treated for a neck injury, two for back injuries, and two for mouth and tongue injuries, DCA spokeswoman Tammori Petty-Dixon told New Jersey 101.5.
She said the park reported the incident to an amusement ride incident hotline and said witnesses reported "hearing a loud bang and seeing a jolting of the El Toro train during operation."
"DCA instructed Six Flags Great Adventure to shut down the ride. There is no further information as to the cause of the incident at the present moment. DCA ride inspectors are onsite today to investigate the incident," Petty-Dixon said in a statement.
A rough ride on El Toro
Holly Cole on the Great Adventure Connoisseurs Facebook page wrote that it felt like the ride hit a pothole after the third drop before the ride turns around.
"A lot of people said they bit their tongue. A few said their backs were hurting and a couple of people said they couldn't breathe for a bit. I thought I might have cracked a tooth," Cole said.
New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow, who is also a former ride operator and coaster enthusiast, said that wooden roller coasters are supposed to be rough and exciting.
"That is part of the appeal. But, obviously, they are not supposed to injure guests. Such accidents are usually a result of some sort of catastrophic failure," Zarrow said.
Zarrow ranked El Toro 6th on his ultimate ranking of New Jersey's 50 roller coasters but it is not a personal favorite.
"I find it way too fast way and too intense. Getting stapled into the lap bars hurts. Plus, safety issues left El Toro completely out of commission for much of the 2021 season - its future reliability is uncertain," Zarrow said.
The ride reopened this season after a partial derailment in June 2021 and failed to return to the station.