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May 22, 2006

Valleyfair Roller Coaster Car Separates Injuring Riders

Shakopee, MN -- A car on the Wild Thing roller coaster at Valleyfair separated from the rest of the train Sunday injuring 18 riders.

The train was close to the end of the circuit and about to enter the station when the final car separated, tipped over and came to rest on an evacuation platform. The trains seat up to 36 passengers and 35 were onboard at the time of the incident.

Fourteen people were taken to a local hospital to be treated for minor injuries and released. Four others refused treatment. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries.

Valleyfair spokesman Bill Von Bank said it was not immediately clear what caused the car to detach, but riders said it happened after the one in front of it experienced a problem.

In a statement the park said that the ride was shut down for 10 minutes less than two hours before Sunday's accident for a routine inspection, but no problems were found.

Wild Thing has been in operation for ten years without any similar problems.

According to the park nearly 13.4 million people have ridden Wild Thing since its debut in 1996. It is Minnesota's tallest and fastest amusement park ride.

The ride will remain closed until the park determines the cause and corrects the problem. Several investigators including one from the ride's manufacturer were in route to the park Monday.

Park officials said they would start their investigation with a visual inspection today, but wait until the rest of the investigators arrive before taking a closer look.

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