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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rodeo ride where man fell to death won't return in 2012

But carnival operator will be back


By CINDY GEORGE, HOUSTON CHRONICLE

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo COO Leroy Shafer stands behind Ray Cammack Shows despite the death of a rider on the Hi Miler roller coaster on March 20.Photo: Johnny Hanson / Houston Chronicle

The Hi Miler roller coaster, from which a Houston man fell to his death at this year's rodeo, will not return in 2012.
But the Arizona company that owns the amusement will be back to run next year's midway of rides and games, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo COO Leroy Shafer confirmed.
The rodeo official lauds the reputation of the coaster's owner, Ray Cammack Shows, but a federal investigative report into the death of Brian Greenhouse faults the company, saying it misrepresented the portable ride's safety record and failed to document or release previously reported malfunctions.


With the Hi Miler roller coaster in the background, Dion Louw, of Ray Cammack Shows, packs up in March. A 47-year-old man died on the ride that month.Photo: Johnny Hanson / Houston Chronicle

If the 47-year-old fell because the safety latch on his seat came loose, it would not be the first time a restraint malfunction was reported to the ride's attendants, carnival officials or rodeo personnel, according to the report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
In an 843-page investigative report, the commission made troubling discoveries about the ride, its safety record and oversight:
In the last two years, there were at least eight reports of restraints moving out of place. A list of previous lap bar complaints provided to federal investigators by Ray Cammack Shows reports only three incidents.
There were four previous reports of restraint malfunctions at the 2011 rodeo, including one the same day Greenhouse fell.
When patrons tried to report lap bar problems, some of the ride attendants didn't seem to understand English.
The ride was dismantled before the federal agency started its probe two days after the fall.
The initial report to Texas amusement regulators reported the fatal fall as an injury - not a death.


A federal probe found previous complaints about the Hi Miler's restraints.Photo: Mayra Beltran / Houston Chronicle The roller coaster's safety became the subject of a Houston-based wrongful death lawsuit after Greenhouse plunged 30 feet to his death on March 20. Greenhouse, an AT&T supervisor and father of a young son, died from multiple impact trauma, including internal head injuries.
His survivors have sued the carnival company and the rodeo, claiming that Greenhouse fell because the seat locking mechanism became unlatched during the ride. The lawsuit also contends that the death was caused by preventable operational and mechanical errors.
"I think it's very telling that while (Ray Cammack Shows) is coming back, they're not bringing the ride back. If their contention is that there's nothing wrong with the ride, then why aren't they bringing it back?" said Tony Taft, one of the lawyers representing Greenhouse's survivors. "To be on notice of a history of problems with this roller coaster and to bring that same outfit back to Houston, it kind of shows little regard for the safety and welfare of the citizens."
Ray Cammack Shows defended the Hi Miler but said returning with the ride would amount to a distraction at this year's rodeo.read more at:http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Rodeo-ride-where-man-fell-to-death-won-t-return-2409972.php#photo-1945527

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