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August 5, 2006

State To Supervise Repair Of Kings Island Coaster

Cincinnati, OH -- Paramount's Kings Island must rebuild a section of the Son of Beast roller coaster under state supervision before it may reopen.

The ride has been closed since July 9 when 27 riders were injured on the wooden roller coaster. The majority of the injuries were not serious, but one female rider was hospitalized for four days with a broken sternum.

The riders complained about a rough section, including a jolt they experienced during the ride. During an inspection the day after investigators found a cracked vertical support beam in the double helix. Inspectors believe this may have contributed to the jolt riders experienced.

Investigators have narrowed the problem down to three possible causes - wood strength, maintenance or design.

According to Paramount's Kings Island, park inspectors walk the entire track of the wooden coaster every morning prior to opening.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture, the state agency that regulates amusement park rides, announced that they have hired an independent engineer to supervise the inspection and tests of the Son of Beast roller coaster.

The state agency will now allow the park to take apart the portion of the ride where the cracked support was found and reconstruct it under the engineer's supervision. The removed wood pieces must be turned over to the state for tests on their strength.

After the section of the roller coaster is rebuilt the park will then conduct test on the design under state supervision.

Department spokeswoman Melanie Wilt was unsure about how long the process will take.

The park is also not speculating on when the roller coaster will be ready to reopen.

"We are in the preliminary stages and doing what the state has requested," said Maureen Kaiser, park spokeswoman. "We want to make sure that it is safe."

The Son of Beast roller coaster is the tallest, fastest wooden coaster in the world and the only one with a vertical loop. The attraction opened in 2000 and is estimated to have cost $25 million to build.

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