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Regulators Clear Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster to Reopen after Accident

Regulators Clear Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster to Reopen after Accident

Safety inspections after a woman was thrown from a coaster car at the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster have been completed and the attraction may resume operation, say state regulators.

The Workplace Regulations and Compliance Division of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development today granted permission for Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster, located at 306 Parkway, to resume operation and by this afternoon the attraction was open for business.

On July 3, 2016, 44-year-old Alma Fatien of Lexington, Ky. was ejected from the coaster car in which she and her boyfriend rode and onto the hillside below the track, suffering severe injuries including head trauma. Although the attraction’s website says the two-person coaster cars are equipped with a safety harness and seat belt, a police incident report says an automated photo taken of Fatien on the coaster just prior to the accident showed she was not wearing a seat belt.

The mountain coaster was closed following the incident pending safety inspections required by state regulators.

In addition, the agency required Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster to provide proof of training procedures, signed documents showing all employees had been re-trained on those procedures, and to explain what the company would do to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. The agency also mandated the company rectify any safety issues highlighted during recent inspections and provide documentation and receipts showing the repairs had been performed.

“The company met remedial measures mandated by this agency and hired a third party inspector to perform inspections on July 6th, July 11th, and again on July 12th,” said Chris Cannon, director of communications with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. “Those inspections found the amusement device to be safe and operable for guests to ride.”

The coaster car involved in the incident, which the agency called “unsafe and inoperable,” remains out of service. Inspections of other coaster cars and the mountain coaster itself have been found safe, in operable condition and cleared to reopen.

The agency enforces the Amusement Device Law and says it only regulates if an amusement device is safe and operable and does not take part in any investigation of fault, or what may have caused an amusement device accident.

A coaster car POV of the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster filmed by CoasterForce in 2015.

Photo: CoasterForce video screenshot

About Candice Fitzgibbons

I am a Sevier County resident and active in my local community. I've spent more than 20 years as a graphic designer and copywriter, creating marketing materials to help small to medium sized businesses and non-profit organizations achieve their goals. I have a passion for equality, the environment and animal rights.