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Shoot the Rapids set to reopen in late May

Melissa Topey • Mar 29, 2014 at 1:10 PM

While state inspectors are still investigating last summer’s malfunction of Shoot the Rapids, Cedar Point expects to have the ride ready for this season.

The ride is scheduled to open along with other water rides in late May when the weather warms, said Bryan Edwards, spokesman for Cedar Point.    On July 19, seven guests were on a Shoot the Rapids boat that malfunctioned while ascending a lift hill. The boat went backward about 187 feet, traveling a considerable distance more before overturning in waistdeep water with the riders trapped in their seats.

“There has not been a final decision as to the cause of the incident,” Brett Gates, an Ohio Department of Agriculture spokesman, stated in a release to the Sandusky Register. “(Ohio Department of Agriculture) inspectors and Cedar Point officials are still conducting a review of the ride before it could open this season.

“Preliminary reviews show the ride malfunctioned as the chain pulling the ride came off the track and the ride was off the track too high to catch before sliding back down in the water,” Gates stated. “What caused that malfunction is what is still being reviewed”

The ride remained shut down after the July 19 incident.

State inspectors anticipate being back in the park starting in April.

Inspectors analyze four specific categories during an assessment of a ride: location and installation; structural; tub and vehicle; and electrical.

Ohio Department of Agriculture inspectors Jon Kaufman and Ted Brubaker conducted a visual inspection the day after the malfunction, finding the ride’s ill-fated boat in the same condition and position it was in after the incident occurred.

The boat was found lying on its side, partially submerged, according to state inspection documents. The chain on the first lift hill was out of its trough.

From witness statements and evidence at the scene, the inspectors determined the boat went down the hill backward about 187 feet, then traveled another 41 feet until it struck the edge of a concrete flume. The force of the collision damaged about 7 feet of concrete.

The boat then continued in the flume an additional 58 feet, striking the flume wall several more times and hitting another boat before overturning, the guests still inside. The inspection revealed two safety features never engaged: one designed to prevent boats from coming off the track, the other to prevent boats from rolling backward.

Engineers from Cedar Point and Europebased IntaRide LLC, the manufacturer of Shoot the Rapids, have conducted numerous tests to identify the cause. Then, of course, they’ll know how to prevent it from happening again.

These steps must be completed before the Ohio Department of Agriculture will meet with Cedar Point to discuss all the actions needed to ensure the ride is safe to reopen.

Ride inspections at Cedar Point usually occur in April and early May.

Erie County Common Pleas Court records and federal court records show no lawsuits to date resulting from the malfunction, and Edwards said he’s not aware of any lawsuits filed in this case.

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