A 55-year-old man died yesterday afternoon after he was thrown from a roller coaster at the
Stanley J. Morbarsky, of Bloomfield, Conn., was thrown from the popular Superman Ride of Steel roller coaster about 3 p.m., just as it was about to end its run, according to Agawam police Lieutenant Steven Draghetti.
"The train was pulling into its last turn to go into the train station to disembark," Draghetti said last night. "He [Morbarsky] somehow came out of the car and died as a result of injuries."
Morbarsky, who suffered "multiple traumas," was pronounced dead on arrival at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield about 3:45 p.m., Draghetti said.
Investigators from the state Department of Public Safety and Agawam police last night were probing the cause of the accident on the thrill ride, which can reach speeds of 80 miles per hour.
Morbarsky flew from the ride sideways as it hit a curve, and could not have fallen far, Draghetti said. As far as investigators could determine, Morbarsky had come to visit the park alone, Draghetti said.
"You can touch the rail standing on the ground," Draghetti said.
Morbarsky "started spinning like a Frisbee and hit the rail, bam, and then fell down on the ground," Anthony Arroyo told WFSB-TV of Hartford, Conn. People started screaming, eyewitness Sara Syez told WHDH-TV in Boston.
"All of a sudden people started screaming, `Stop the ride, stop the ride, someone has fallen off,' " she said. "They finally stopped the ride, and it was extreme panic, and we looked, and all the people in the cars were crying . . . and we looked over to the side, and there was a gentleman laying by the fence."
Park officials immediately closed the ride, Draghetti said.
The state officials are investigating both the mechanics of the ride and the people who were operating it, according to Christine Cole, deputy chief of staff at the Executive Office of Public Safety.
Cole said officials routinely conduct investigations after accidents.
"Our role includes, but is not limited to, responding to accidents and conducting an investigation and review to help determine cause," she said.
Park officials told the Associated Press yesterday that the roller coaster was inspected yesterday morning and was certified for operation by the state before the park's season opening, April 17. The park is outside of Springfield, about 90 miles west of Boston.
Draghetti said Six Flags also had an engineering team on the scene last night.
The incident was not the first time there has been a problem with the popular Superman roller coaster. In August 2001, 22 people suffered minor injuries when one car smashed into the back of another.
Federal officials are barred from investigating such accidents because of a jurisdictional exemption passed by Congress in 1981.
US Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Malden, called yesterday's accident "a tragedy" and criticized the existing law as a "special-interest loophole."
Markey is the author of a bill in Congress that would allow federal investigators to participate in amusement park accident investigations.
The Superman Ride of Steel roller coaster opened in 2000 to much acclaim, and was once named the top roller coaster in the world by Park World magazine. The mile-long ride is one of the tallest and fastest coasters in the world, according to the park's website.
The Agawam park is owned by Oklahoma City, Okla.-based Six Flags Inc., which operates 31 parks in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Spain.
Officials from Six Flags could not be reached last night for comment.
Connie Paige can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.