Excessive speed caused Daytona Beach roller coaster derailment

Officials blame operator error

By Adrienne Cutway - Web Editor

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Excessive speed and operator error are being blamed for a roller coaster derailment in Daytona Beach that left several people injured, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The Sand Blaster coaster on the Daytona Beach Boardwalk derailed June 14, hours after it had reopened after it was ordered to be closed for a month due to a failed inspection.

Officials said Tuesday that excessive speed caused the derailment. An engineer who inspected the ride after the incident estimated that it had been traveling 22 mph. The report also indicated that the manufacturer's manual did not indicate an appropriate speed for the ride.

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

"The accident was not a single impact event. The cars were traveling near 22 mph and speed loss occurred throughout the event during derailment, during the slide into the brake, during brake impact and bolt fractures, during jack stand side swipe and during second car derailment. When the car finally exited the track it was likely nearly stopped," the report read.

Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam said the incident is still under investigation.

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“Operator error caused the Sand Blaster Roller Coaster derailment, which injured multiple people. We’ve issued subpoenas to obtain more information from the ride operator, and we will hold fully accountable those responsible,” Putnam said in a statement.

The ride has been out of operation since the derailment. 

Orlando attorney Matt Morgan, who is representing riders who were injured in the accident, said his team is conducting its own investigation.

"Our team of experts have been tirelessly working to put the pieces of this tragic puzzle together. We have completed a full and comprehensive scene /car inspection with a variety of experts. The data obtained is being internally analyzed by our team. We hope to shed more light on the circumstances surrounding this loss soon. It is disheartening to begin to learn just how preventable this derailment was. 

"My clients were severely injured by the derailment of this roller coaster. They are continuing to  deal with the consequences of this failure every day of their lives. They remain under the care of their doctors. Their injuries include, but are not limited to; multiple broken bones, collapsed lungs, spinal injuries and head injuries," Morgan said in a statement.

Scott Shelton, attorney for the Sand Blaster roller coaster owners', said his office is reviewing the state's findings.

“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,” Shelton said.

Check back for more details on this developing story.

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