Daytona Beach roller coaster may never reopen after derailment

Report says engineer running ride too fast

By Jerry Askin - Reporter

MARION COUNTY, Fla. - The Sandblaster roller coaster, which derailed last month on the Daytona Beach boardwalk, may not reopen again, Florida Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam said while at a campaign event Wednesday.

"We've red-tagged that ride. That ride might not reopen possibly ever, certainly not until the investigation is complete," Putnam said.

The commissioner was in Marion County at a campaign event for his run for Florida governor speaking with veterans.

After he spoke, News 6 asked the commissioner about the roller coaster derailment last month in Daytona Beach, which left several people injured. This comes after a newly released state report from outside engineers.

"The operator was running that ride faster than they should have been, especially for the conditions," Putnam said.

New photos from the report showed grooves where the ride’s wheels came off.  The engineers said they found evidence the ride had derailed before, but said previous derailments were never reported.

"We have subpoena the maintenance records of the operator, they had refused to comply with us so we’re using all of our legal Means to obtain those records," Putnam said.

The commissioner said it’s too soon to say if perhaps there will be any criminal charges.

[READ: Daytona Beach roller coaster victims may have lifelong injuries]

The ride was shut down for a month before the accident for a failed inspection. Putnam said his team does not believe the issues revealed during the inspection were a factor in the crash.

News 6 asked the commissioner how his team of inspectors missed the same issues the outside engineers found.

"They are not the types of things that would’ve been seen by the naked eye by investigators. They should have been picked up by the engineer who is required to do an annual inspection of that ride," said Putnam. 

Putnam said the engineer should be hired annually by the operator to review the ride’s structural integrity.

Orlando-based attorney Matt Morgan is representing several riders who were hurt. He said a lawsuit is likely on the way. Morgan said he's heard from the attorney for what he calls one responsible entity to begin the pre-litigation process.

The attorney for the ride’s owners released the following statement. "We are still reviewing the State’s preliminary report which was released to the media this afternoon before being obtained by us.  We will examine the report very closely and also look into the extent of the State’s inspection that occurred hours before the incident. In the meantime, we continue to fully cooperate with the State’s investigation," said attorney Scott Shelton.

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