According to state officials, no problems were found during an inspection of the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster after an incident over the July 4th weekend in which a woman was ejected from a coaster car.
A woman riding as the front passenger of a double ride car at the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster, 306 Parkway in Gatlinburg, was thrown from the car as it entered the last turn during the thrill ride on July 3, 2016. The victim, identified as 44-year-old Alma Fatien of Lexington, Ky., suffered fractures of both wrists, a kneecap, head trauma, and possible broken ribs. Gatlinburg EMS transported Fatien to UT Medical Center for treatment and no further information was available regarding her condition.
Police say Fatien’s boyfriend, Sabino Olmeda Ortiz, was the driver of the coaster car and was sitting in the rear seat of the double ride car during the incident.
The attraction’s website says each coaster car is built for single or double riders and is equipped with safety harnesses and lap belts. According to the incident report obtained from the Gatlinburg Police Department, an automated picture taken of Fatien on the coaster just before the accident occurred showed she was not wearing a seat belt.
State law requires that the owner or operator of any amusement device cease operation immediately following any incident involving a serious injury or fatality. They must report the incident to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Workplace Regulation and Compliance Division within 24 hours and secure an inspection from a state certified third party inspector. They may not resume operation until it gets authorization by the state’s Amusement Device Unit.
“A third party inspector was dispatched to the scene to inspect the Mountain Coaster,” said Chris Cannon, spokesperson for the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development. “A complete inspection of the amusement device found no issues and the inspector determined the Mountain Coaster was in proper working order at the time of this incident.”
However, the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster remained closed as of Saturday pending remedial measures that will be determined next week.
“Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster has ceased operation and cannot resume until after the company has complied with remedial measures,” Cannon said. “This Department is still working with the company to achieve statutory compliance requirements which will not be ready until next week, until then the Mountain Coaster remains closed.”
The attraction’s Facebook page stated it is closed to comply with the state investigation and performing maintenance checks, in addition to removing a large tree that fell on the track during a recent storm.
The Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster first opened in 2014.
Photo: Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster