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After 3rd death, NY orders more training for Playland attendants


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August 25, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) _ State officials investigating the third death at the Playland amusement park in three years have ordered a company that operates attractions at the park to immediately provide better training to ride operators.

A report released by the state's Department of Labor on Friday indicated that proper safety procedures weren't being followed when a 21-year-old worker taking a spin on the park's Mind Scrambler ride was flung to her death in June.

The worker, Gabrielle Garin, wasn't buckled into her seat, as required. Witnesses told investigators that she started the ride kneeling on her seat, then got up to dance in the spinning compartment just before being thrown.

The report concluded that the 18-year-old worker operating the ride knew Garin wasn't seated properly, but started the ride anyway.

Both Garin and the teen were employees of S&L Amusements, which owned the ride and a few others at the park. Garin was the teen's manager.

State inspectors noted other breakdowns in safety rules:

Garin, the report said, shouldn't have been riding the attraction while still on the job. The state said the company had also failed to staff a second operator's booth added to the Mind Scrambler ride after a 7-year-old girl wriggled free of a restraining bar and fell to her death in 2004.

"It is apparent that the second operator station installed after the first fatality was not being used at the time of the accident and in fact (was) not used most of the time," the report said.

The Department of Labor's Industry Inspection Bureau ordered S&L Amusements to ensure that all of its rides are operated "only by competent operators." It also ordered the company to enforce rules prohibiting on-duty rides by personnel, provide more training to attendants and instruct operators not to start rides until all passengers are properly positioned.

S&L Amusement's owner and a park manager did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment Saturday.

Westchester County, which owns Playland, has closed the Mind Scrambler ride permanently.

Playland, located about 25 miles north of midtown Manhattan, is a national landmark and was featured in the 1988 Tom Hanks film "Big," but its recent summers have been marred by deadly mishaps.

In 2005, a 7-year-old boy was killed after he climbed out of a boat ride while it was operating.

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