We talked about a San Antonio Express-News investigation of the thrill ride industry, and how the public can check a little-known government database that tracks amusement ride injuries in Texas. The Express-News posted the injury data online for anyone interested in checking the safety record of a theme park or carnival.
Our second story about the safety record of amusement parks in Texas focused on Kiddie Park, a San Antonio landmark that opened in 1925 but has fallen on tough times. In at least three incidents, the park’s aging rides malfunctioned or broke with scared children on board. One 6-year-old boy knocked his teeth out in a rollercoaster accident.
Ten years ago (wow, I’m getting old) I wrote a series of stories about the safety record of San Antonio’s major theme parks — Six Flags Fiesta Texas, SeaWorld San Antonio, and Splashtown. I learned state officials keep a little-known database that tracks amusement-ride injuries in Texas.
The database isn’t perfect. The injuries are self-reported by parks, and there’s missing cases of devastating, bone-breaking injuries, as my story published today points out. And the injury reports are written by ride owners, so it’s their version of events.
Despite the limitations, the injury data can be an interesting starting point for someone who’s wondering, just how safe is my local theme park or carnival?
Over the years, B.J. Morris, the friendly amusement-ride administrator at the Texas Department of Insurance, has e-mailed me updates to the data. Meanwhile, the data geeks at the Express-News have been doing a good job posting public data online for readers to slice and dice. Last year, we posted a salary database of city employees and it was wildly popular. It got me to thinking, maybe I need to stop hoarding that ride injury database on my computer’s hard drive and put that puppy in the public realm.
Here’s the result: A database of amusement ride injuries that’s available to everyone. For the first time, you can go online and look up injuries by ride owner and injury type. Many reports describe minor bumps and scrapes. But one thing that struck me was the sheer variety of painful ways people get hurt at theme parks and carnivals. This report describes a 10-year-old girl who got her finger caught in a gate at Six Flags Over Texas.
Her fingertip was amputated.
You can check the safety record of Texas theme parks and carnivals by searching a unique database of 1,800 reports detailing broken bones, chipped teeth and other injuries.
Officials at the Texas Department of Insurance collect injury reports from amusement ride owners and type the information into a database. We obtained a copy of the data and posted it online this afternoon. The major parks include Six Flags and SeaWorld.
The data is part of a story scheduled to be published this Sunday in the San Antonio Express-News that examines the safety-record of the thrill-ride industry. More to come.