A Michigan woman is “fighting for her life” after being hit in the head by a piece of metal that flew off a 420-foot roller coaster at an Ohio amusement park, relatives said.
Rachel Hawes, 44, of Swartz Creek, a Flint suburb, was identified Monday by investigators as the Cedar Point guest who had an “unknown type of head injury” after she was hit with a metal bracket on Aug. 15 as she waited in line to ride the Top Thrill Dragster, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.
The frightening incident at the park in Sandusky sent other guests scrambling for safety. Hawes, meanwhile, remained in critical condition at a hospital with a brain injury, relatives told WOIO Monday.
“We are devastated by last weekend’s accident at Cedar Point,” Hawes’ family said in a statement. “We want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers during this time. Rachel is fighting for her life, and we would ask for privacy in this difficult time.”
The Ohio Department of Agriculture’s chief of amusement rides said an L-shaped bracket about the size of a man’s hand that was attached to the back of the coaster’s car became dislodged before striking Hawes. Half of the bolts that secured the bracket to the cars also got dislodged, investigators found.
Hawes was initially taken to a hospital in Sandusky before being transferred to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Toledo, the Beacon Journal reported. A spokesman told The Post on Wednesday no one by that name was listed as a patient at the hospital.
The ride, which lasts just 17 seconds, was last inspected in May and had no major issues at the time. But minor upgrades to its hydraulic system and other components were made, bringing it into compliance with state regulations on May 15. It has since been shut down for the remainder of the 2021 season as the cause of the accident remains under investigation.
The coaster, which tops out at 120 mph, sends riders from a standstill to the top speed in just 3.8 seconds, according to the park’s website.
“Riders are launched in the blink of an eye before sprinting straight up at a 90-degree incline,” the website reads. “We aren’t kidding when we say that this high-octane sprint to the checkered flag knows a thing or twenty about horsepower.”
The Top Thrill Dragster was the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world when it opened in 2003, but was later eclipsed by the Kinga Ka ride at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson Township, New Jersey, the Beacon Journal reported.
The train car involved in the accident and other pieces of evidence have been sent to a lab for further review, according to David Miran, the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s chief of amusement rides.
“This is a very complicated ride,” Miran told the newspaper.