At least two other people, including a boy in Florida and a woman in California, have been injured on free-fall rides similar to the Wisconsin Dells thrill ride on which a 12-year-old girl was seriously injured Friday.
Teagan Marti, of Florida, fell at least 40 feet to the ground after a safety net on the Terminal Velocity ride at Extreme World failed to break her fall. She was in critical condition Saturday evening at American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison, hospital spokeswoman Lisa Brunette confirmed.
Meanwhile, Extreme World is facing financial trouble, Sauk County Circuit Court records show. The amusement park is set to be sold in a foreclosure sale next month.
Extreme World owner Bill Anderson told the Associated Press the girl’s fall was the first accident in the eight-year history of the ride.
But news reports indicate that at least two other people have been hurt on similar rides elsewhere during that same time.
A 13-year-old boy tumbled from a free-fall tower while attending a 2002 amusement park trade show in Orlando. He suffered a broken leg and bruises after falling about 60 feet onto padding, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
That ride was made by Montic, a German company, according to the group that hosted the expo, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. Montic’s website says it invented the “suspended catch air device,” or SCAD Diving, and the description is almost identical to that of Extreme World’s Terminal Velocity.
In California, a woman was injured on a similar ride in 2003 when a safety system failed. In that incident, the net for an Adrenaline Drop ride at the Orange County Fair stretched to the ground, allowing the 30-year-old woman to hit the safety padding underneath. She was hospitalized but released the next day, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Terminal Velocity, Montic’s SCAD Diving and Adrenaline Drop are all described on company websites as the “only” ride in the world that allows people to experience unattached, controlled free fall. And each says a system of air tubes and break suspensions around a double net are used to softly stop the fall.
The Orange County Fair no longer uses the ride and hasn’t since 2003, a spokeswoman said. The company that owns Adrenaline Drop did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Anderson could not be reached for comment Saturday. The amusement park’s website states the park is temporarily closed and refers questions to the Lake Delton Police Department. Most of the content on the Extreme World website had been taken down Saturday evening.
However on Friday, the Extreme World site described Terminal Velocity as having a platform 140 feet off the ground. It said divers drop 100 feet at speeds up to 52 mph into a double net above the ground. Lake Delton police said in a statement Friday that the net “was not high enough above the ground to completely break the fall and she did hit the ground.”
Court records show Extreme World has been foreclosed upon and is scheduled to be sold Sept. 7 at a Sauk County Sheriff’s auction. The foreclosure judgment against Anderson Amusements LLC and Extreme World Inc., was for $2,742,973, court records show.
Anderson also owes about $82,076.74 in delinquent taxes and penalties on three Anderson Amusement parcels at 1800 and 1810 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy., according to Sauk County’s online land information program.
Lake Delton police don’t plan to give any updates about the incident until Monday, officer Shawn Posewitz said.
Ken Martin, an amusement ride safety consultant based in Richmond, Va., said the first time he saw this type of free-fall ride was at the 2002 trade show in Orlando, when the boy fell and he heard screams in the convention hall.
“Either the net wasn’t in place or it failed,” Martin said.
— State Journal reporter Dee J. Hall, the Wisconsin Dells Events and The Associated Press contributed to this report.