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SANTA CLARA / Theme park reopens the Drop Zone ride

San Francisco Chronicle

Original Article »

June 25, 2007

The Great America theme park in Santa Clara has reopened its Drop Zone thrill ride after a horrific accident on a similar ride at an amusement park in Kentucky.

The ride in Santa Clara was reopened Saturday afternoon after precautionary inspections were done by California workplace safety regulators and Great America staff, said park spokesman Gene Frugé. He said the first people back on the ride were the park's general manager, marketing director and maintenance director.

"We stand by our work," Frugé said.

The park's owner, Cedar Fair Entertainment Co., shut down the Drop Zone and similar rides at four other theme parks on Thursday after a snapped cable severed the feet of a 13-year-old girl riding the Superman Tower of Power at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville.

The Tower of Power -- manufactured by Intamin AG, the same Swiss firm that manufactured Great America's Drop Zone and the other shuttered rides -- lifts passengers 177 feet into the air and drops them almost the same distance at speeds reaching 54 mph. Inspectors have not yet determined what caused the accident.

The Drop Zone is 224 feet high and drops riders 120 feet. Riders are strapped into four-person cabins. The ride became the subject of wrongful-death litigation in 1999 when 12-year-old Joshua Lee Smurphat fell from the ride after slipping out of his harness.

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