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July 12, 1999

Operator Error May Have Caused Thunderbolt Collision

West Mifflin, PA -- Initial inspections of the Thunderbolt roller coaster at have possibly ruled out a mechanical problem as the cause of last Thursday's accident at Kennywood Park.

According to reports there were no mechanical problems found during the initial inspection of the roller coaster last Friday. Park officials commented that both the manual and automatic breaks were working as normal.

State inspectors continued to test the roller coaster on Friday evening with empty trains and again found no mechanical problems with the coaster's breaking system.

Should mechanical failure be officially ruled out, investigators might have to look into the possibility that operator error may have caused the collision, which injured thirty riders last Thursday.

Following the mechanical inspection, park officials and investigators were hoping that interviews with the ride's operators might offer some details as to what may have cause the accident.

Last Saturday a story in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper on Saturday quoted a park official saying. If operator error is found to be the cause, the person involved may be disciplined or possibly fired.

According to Kennywood the Thunderbolt undergoes and extensive safety inspection by park maintenance staff on a daily basis, just like all of the park's roller coaster prior to opening.

In addition to the park's daily inspections the state of Pennsylvania inspects all of Kennywood's rides on an annual basis.

Related Stories:
Coaster Train Collision Injures 30 at Kennywood July 11, 1999
Thunderbolt Reopens, Mechanical Failure Ruled Out July 13, 1999