A log ride at Knott’s Berry Farm has been poorly maintained, leading to injuries in several people, including a young boy who suffered a fractured eye socket, according to a lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court.
The lawsuit, filed by the family of Charles Miller, 6, of Illinois said the boy was injured last year when he was riding the Timber Mountain Log Ride with his father. The boy’s face smashed into the back of the seat in front of him when the floating log vehicle slowed abruptly after coming down the final drop, the suit alleges.
A spokeswoman for the park declined to comment, saying the park does not discuss legal matters.
At least 10 other riders from 2000 to 2014 have been injured in similar circumstances on the same ride, the lawsuit said.
The Millers’ attorney, Barry Novack, filed a similar lawsuit in 2015 involving a 6-year-old girl who also suffered an eye injury on the same log ride. The park settled that case for an undisclosed amount, he said.
Accident reports filed with the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health show that the agency investigated at least nine injuries reported on the log ride between 2010 and 2012. The accident reports describe injuries to riders such as chipped teeth and lacerations around the eye.
In response to several reports of injuries on the ride, the state Department of Industrial Relations investigated the attraction in 2015 and concluded that a device that monitors the water level was not working properly. The agency ordered the park to make repairs and to pay more than $5,000 in inspection fees.
The latest lawsuit, filed against Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park and its parent company, Cedar Fair, alleges that the theme park failed to maintain proper water levels on the ride, which caused “the logs to decelerate in a dangerous manner.”
If the ride has too much water at the bottom of the last drop, Novack said, the vehicles carrying the passengers will slow abruptly. If the ride has too little water, the vehicle will skip across the water, hitting the side of the chute at the bottom, he said.
The lawsuit also claims that the ride lacks a restraint system to keep riders from slamming into the padded back of the seat in front of them. The suit asks that the theme park and its parent company pay for medical costs and earnings losses caused by the boy’s injury plus punitive damages. Novack said the boy still has vision problems as a result of the accident.
The log ride opened in 1969 and was considered an innovative attraction at the time because it relied primarily on water to move the ride vehicles throughout the route. Walter Knott, the founder of the park, helped design the ride, which features wildlife scenes and fake lumberjacks to fit into 19th century lumber camp theme.
The ride, previously called Calico Log Ride, underwent a five-month renovation in 2013.
A Los Angeles Times investigation of theme park accidents in Southern California found that theme park injuries are rare but that more injuries are reported on older rides than on newer ones.
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