I heard about this from one of my co-workers. Very tragic.
- 4-year-old dies after riding Disney attraction
Autopsy inconclusive, more tests planned to find cause of death
The Associated Press
Updated: 8:18 p.m. ET June 14, 2005
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Agnes Bamuwamye knew something was wrong after she and her 4-year-old son, Daudi, strapped into the “Mission: Space” ride at Walt Disney World. The boy’s body was rigid and his legs stretched out, so she took his hand to reassure him as the rocket-ship ride spun them around.
When the ride ended, the boy was limp and unresponsive. She carried him off the ride, and paramedics and a theme park worker tried to revive him, but he died at a hospital.
An autopsy Tuesday showed no trauma, so further tests will be conducted and a cause of death may not be known for several weeks, said Sheri Blanton, a spokeswoman for the Medical Examiner’s Office in Orlando.
The $100 million Epcot ride, one of Disney World’s most popular, was closed after the death but reopened Tuesday after company engineers concluded that it was operating normally.
“Mission: Space” spins riders in a giant centrifuge that subjects them to twice the normal force of gravity, and it is so intense that some riders have been taken to the hospital with chest pain.
Rocket launch simulation
The ride recreates a rocket launch and a trip to Mars. A clock counts down before a simulated blastoff that includes smoke and flame and the sound of roaring rocket engines. The G-forces twist and distort riders’ faces.
An audio recording and a video warn of the risks. Signs advise pregnant women not to go on the ride. Motion sickness bags are offered to riders. One warning sign posted last year read: “For safety you should be in good health, and free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, motion sickness or other conditions that can be aggravated by this adventure.”
Since the attraction opened in 2003, seven people have been taken to the hospital for chest pains, fainting or nausea. That is the most hospital visits for a single ride since Florida’s major theme parks agreed in 2001 to report any serious incidents to the state. The most recent case was last summer, when a 40-year-old woman was taken to a hospital after fainting.
“Two Gs is not that big a deal,” said Houston-based theme park consultant Randy King, a former safety director at Six Flags, which operates 30 amusement parks.
Disney defends ride
Disney officials said in a statement that they were “providing support to the family and are doing everything we can to help them during this difficult time.” No changes were made to the ride or in who is permitted to ride it.
“We believe the ride is safe in its current configuration,” Disney spokeswoman Jacquee Polak said.
More than 8.6 million visitors have gone on “Mission: Space” since 2003, Polak said.
The sheriff’s office said the boy, from Sellersville, Pa., met the minimum 44-inch height requirement for the ride.
The boy’s father is Moses Bamuwamye, a finance officer at the United Nations, authorities said.
One other death was reported at Disney World this year. A 77-year-old woman who was in poor health from diabetes and several ministrokes died in February after going on the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride. A medical examiner’s report said her death “was not unexpected.”
Florida’s major theme parks not directly regulated by the state, and instead have their own inspectors.
I rode on this ride when my family was at WDW this May. It definitely made me feel ill. Sounds like the poor kid had a seizure or something. Again, a terrible thing to happen while on vacation.