Questions remain after roller coaster derails hours after passing inspection

Ride cited for issues in past, records show

By Jerry Askin - Reporter

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The Sand Blaster roller coaster in Daytona Beach failed an inspection about a month before it derailed last week, leaving several people injured.

The information comes as News 6 is uncovering a history of prior inspections and a troubled past.

Melissa Collins said her faith is what kept her so strong during Thursday's scary experience. She said she was dangling upside-down on the roller coaster for almost an hour last week.

"I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t breathe. I just remember trying to pray within my mind that God would spare me and let me see my kids and husband," Collins said.

Collins said she's counting her blessings and is glad to be home from the hospital. She was in Florida from Kentucky for a work trip when the accident took place.

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"I knew as we came around that it wasn’t going to make that turn," she said. 

News 6 was in Daytona Beach during the summer of 2013, when the Sand Blaster roller coaster first opened. 

As part of our investigation into how the ride could pass an inspection only to derail hours later, News 6 asked the Florida Department of Agriculture if the prior issues were actually fixed and whether the state inspectors who gave the all clear for the ride to operate again are still working and doing inspections.

The department said it's investigating and the people responsible for the accident will be held accountable.  

According to state records, News 6 found three prior failed inspections documented since the ride opened in Daytona Beach. Records show the ride is owned by Boardwalk Amusement Rides LLC and lists the ride’s manufacturer as Pinfari, which is based in Italy.

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The ride was shut down for a month prior to last week's incident for a failed inspection, and to allow workers to address the issues of excessive corrosion, non-working latches and six other items, according to state records. Inspectors said the issues were corrected and the ride passed the inspection the same day the tragedy happened. 

Lawyers at Morgan and Morgan said a lawsuit may be on the way, unless the ride’s insurance company comes through and pays what the firm considers to be the appropriate amount of money.

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