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There's a Reason Why it's a 'Restricted' Area'

By Gloria Diaz

Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!

Fort Wayne Reader

2015-08-20


I was eating dinner when I saw something posted on Facebook. It expressed sympathy and prayers, with the hashtag #raptor. Uh oh, I thought. I bet that has to do with Cedar Point. I bet someone died. So I Googled raptor and found out someone did die.

From initial reports, it sounds like the person in question was where he was wasn't supposed to be. I figured he was trying to retrieve his hat. Ha ha. That’s so 1999. After I got home, I did another search. Apparently the guy was in a restricted area to get his cell phone.

This is a needless tragedy. Yet it happens. It usually happens at other amusement parks, but today, it was my beloved Cedar Point in the news for a sad reason. Usually, if CP is in the news, it is because of a new ride, usually a roller coaster.

This incident showed how much we value our possessions, or rather don’t value them. The Raptor is a steel coaster that has a few loops in it. If you don’t like going upside down, this isn’t the coaster for you. I have no fear of coasters at all, but I also make sure everything is secure before I get on. Cell phone, sunglasses, wallet and car key are all safely buttoned into several pockets of my cargo shorts. I never wear a hat, but I see several men wearing them on roller coasters. How the hell do they stay on? Sometimes, they don’t. Even if I did wear a hat, I wouldn’t take the risk. I would stuff it down my shirt, and tuck my shirt in. Or, I’d rent a locker and keep the hat there. The last time I went to Cedar Point, I played a couple of those “guess your age” games and ended up with a couple of stuffed animals, a teddy bear and an elephant (I named them Millennium Force and Mean Streak). When I went on rides after I won them, I couldn’t take them with me. They sat in the storage bins until my turn on the ride was over. I was able to take the teddy bear on Mean Streak only because I stuffed him down my shirt and tied the strings on my hoodie.

The Cedar Point guest was old enough to know better. This wasn’t some teenager with an iPhone 6, or whatever generation Apple has cranked out. This was a guy who doesn’t understand speed or physics. Apparently, he didn’t understand what “restricted area—no entry allowed” means, either. If his phone was that important to him, why wasn’t it better secured? The Raptor goes 57 miles per hour, and you’re upside down at least six times. If something is not strapped to your body, or buttoned into a pocket, be prepared to lose it.

I’ve never lost anything on a ride before, but before scaling a fence with barbed wire at the top (possibly electrified) I would alert the ride operators that whatever object I had when I boarded the train wasn’t on my person. I wouldn’t expect them to stop the ride to look for my crap, but on one of the message boards, a commenter who lost something at King’s Island wrote that at the end of each day, ride operators look for any items and take them to lost and found. So is waiting a few hours worth saving your life? I think so.

But not this guy. He probably thought he’d sneak in, grab the phone, and sneak out. Problem is, the ride doesn’t stop. And if anything hits you at 57 miles per hour, it’s gonna hurt. And it will probably be deadly.

Not surprisingly, there wasn’t a whole lot of sympathy on the comments sections of websites reporting the story. There were some calls for prayers for the family. But there were a few snide comments about Darwinism, lawsuits, at least one reference to the movie Airplane! and criticism of the ABC News headline: Man Killed by Raptor Roller Coaster at Cedar Point Park, Officials Say. One commenter said the headline made it sound as if Raptor knifed the guy in the parking lot.

One comment observed that the guy was just getting his life on track.

Ouch.

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