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Teen Decapitated at Six Flags

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How to keep your kids safe at amusement parks this summer.

Asia-Leeshawn-Ferguson270.jpg

17-year-old Asia Leeshawn Ferguson of Columbia, South Carolina was killed at Six Flags Over Georgia on Saturday. He died after he and another teenager scaled two fences and entered a restricted area. Ferguson was hit by the speeding "Batman the Ride" roller coaster and was decapitated.

Momlogic talked to amusement park safety expert Alan Korn, Director of Public Policy and General Counsel for Safe Kids Worldwide, for his perspective. "This case was particularly surprising because the teen ignored several barriers (like a sign saying "Keep Out") and also scaled fences," he says. "Plus, he ignored the apparent upfront hazards of a roller coaster traveling at fast speed. This is one of those situations where this young adult ignored all reasonable safety precautions. This was not the fault of the amusement park. It's ultimately up to the good judgment of young adults to follow warnings not to behave like this."

But he says even though this incident was caused by poor judgment on the part of a young adult, that doesn't mean parents should throw caution to the wind. The park and the parents have a responsibility to ensure safety, according to Korn. "There are 2-4 deaths and 8,000 injuries per year at amusement parks," he says. "A day at a park should never end in the ER or with a death." He offers parents the following safety tips:

Follow the height and age restrictions on the rides: Most parents don't realize that the numbers on the signs are a minimum requirement, Korn says. If a sign says: "Anyone under 5 feet can't go on" that means you have to be at least 5 feet. But just because you meet the height requirements, you also need to possess the physical and cognitive capabilities to ride these rides. They call them thrill rides for a reason.

Follow your instincts: Watch the ride a little before you put your kid on it, recommends Korn. "You know your kid best," he says. "If they're showing any apprehension or discomfort, go try another ride. Many rides are scary, and require an adult to ride with the child. That is a wonderful rule. If you're on the ride, too, it helps ensure your child won't stand up on the ride, take off his seat belt, dangle his feet over the edge...and you can also provide emotional comfort, as well."

Always use the safety equipment: "The park knows their rides best," Korn says. "If there are machine restraints, use them. These rides are engineered to be very safe, but that doesn't mean accidents don't happen. In a Six Flags park in Texas, a kid's feet were cut off by the ride. But if you behave safely, and follow the height and age instructions, you'll drastically lower your risk of injury."

"In general, amusement parks are very safe," Korn concludes. "But they could always monitor the rides better, train their attendants more, or step up the maintenance. Usually the attendants are kids who are standing in the sun all day. They're on their high school summer vacation, and they're bored and not paying attention." So it's important for parents to be more vigilant than ever. Your kid's safety depends on it.


next: Moms' Sex Challenge: Week Three
92 comments so far | Post a comment now
bb July 1, 2008, 3:02 PM

I think some barbed wire across the top
of such fences would be a good idea,
especially in areas where a persons life
would be threatened if fence was jumped.
Nothing else matters in this situation except this young man’s life.

delilah goodine July 1, 2008, 4:22 PM

I respect your comments R Crocker. Truly, I do.

Lesley July 1, 2008, 4:23 PM

Lynn actually “delilah goodine on June 30, 2008 6:13” made reference to “black”!
That is not the issue at all though, the issue is compassion. I agree with EVERYTHING R Crocker has to say. Life is to short to focus on all of this negativity. Who are we anyhow to judge anyone? Everyone (including me) needs to examine our own lives and fix problems in our own families before we can fix or cast judgment or have room to state opinions on a family we do not even know. The problem is that it is to painful and to much work to focus on our own lives or on our own children and the issues that really need to be fixed. Heck it is so much easier to focus on and point out everyone else’s mistakes and problems. I have no idea how I stumbled onto this site but all everyone does here is bicker and cast blame on people.
I agree with Harvey on 1 thing “that parents do not raise their kids right very often and don’t hold them accountable for their actions…” so many parents today are not tough enough on there children and that is a lot of the problem. I see that 1st hand, I know that because I take in troubled teen boys myself through a therapeutic foster care program. I see how so many parents do not really want to be bothered with there own children’s lives or are to lazy to deal with them even though a lot of the time they have caused the issues at hand. (not always though) On the other hand rather than sitting here on the computer ranting and raving about teens today “make a difference in someones life” So many people do not want to be bothered by the teens today because of various reasons but the fact of the matter is SO MANY of them need love and if you take time to hear them and show them love than maybe you can help mold who that child will become. We want these kids to learn respect to adults and authority but mostly what teens get from the adults is disapproval and judgment. So many teens have nothing to look forward to no body to push them to reach for a goal a lot of times no one to even be home when they get home from school or even all night SO many have parents that to not care and are so consumed with them self or maybe a single parents working desperately to provide for there family that they are missing out on there child’s life and leading that child down the road to bigger issues and loneliness. Obviously everyone on this site are people that care how people (teens act) so step up and even though you can’t change the world I bet every last one of you can help change a teen when you take time to see the real them and get under the hard cold angry FAKE shell most of them are living under. Why should they care about anything when no one cares about them. I guarantee you that if you see for yourself that you have brought joy and a sense of acceptance to one of these teens you’ll be more happy and content with yourself and want to do it again. They are not looking for the perfect person, just the right age and look they are so desperately looking for love and someone to accept them for who they are and someone they can trust and confide in then once they let you into there life you have the opportunity to make a huge impact on them.
Have a field day with this one I know you will and that is okay because I know my heart and what I am trying to install in the 3 teen boys I care for along with my husband and 6 year old boy and I just want the best for them and to teach them how to live responsibly and forgetting the past and focusing on there future and all of there potential. I think if people were more pro active they wouldn’t have time to sit here and bicker and fight. so go ahead say what you want I am done with site I am going to continue to try and help the people that I can for as long as I can. This site is addicting to read and write but who really has the time for all of this and also it’s kind of depressing listening to all of this. Sorry if I offended you Delilah, you and I just have to different ways of getting the facts out and speaking truth into peoples lives. I get to the point when the point is needed and I am not some push over either but I also empathize with people when I speak. And yes there are a lot more forward people than I and that is fine and I realize you probably didn’t mean to come across harsh but I just thought you did. Life is short, live it to the fullest and if arguing on this site makes you happy than so be it.

delilah goodine July 1, 2008, 5:51 PM

Ms. Lesley,

I understand where you’re coming from, but you speak about teens not being raised properly. What does that have to do with the boy? As I recall in the news, he was with at Six Flags with his church group. Apparently, his family were church going people, as I am. I don’t think he was a bad kid at all. He just made a bad decision, as we all do in life. His was just fatal. I’m not judging or putting down no one, not even the boy. I’m sure he was a good kid who came from a good home. I don’t feel all teenagers are bad, they are curious. And as far as me mentioning him being ‘BLACK’, that was not to be a racist comment nor was it to say because he was BLACK, that’s why it happened. The reason I said ‘BLACK’ was because anyone walking by and saw those 2 black teenage boys hopping the fence into Six Flags would of made a big fuss about it. Cut the B.S. please. I’m black myself. I wasn’t being racial. I’m just stating facts. Everytime you hear something bad on the news about robberies and high speed chases, the first thing people ask themselves was rather the person was black, white, mexican, or a foreigner. People try to mix the crime with the race, meaning robberies and high speed chases are black people crimes. Shooting up schools and killing their parents are white people crimes, and so on. That is not being racial, its just the way it is. I’m 29 years old and see right through that!!

Lesley July 1, 2008, 7:30 PM

Okay Delilah whatever, the only reason I mentioned about the “black ” comment again was because of Lynn’s comment. Anyhow do what you want, believe what you want and congratulations on being black. I mean who really cares I do not, you could be orange it don’t matter one bit to me. That was not my point and my point on the teens and not having parents had to do with Harveys comment on teens not being raised right. Anyhow I am done arguing with you this is so STUPID, it is no ones business. All this site does is cause people to fight with people they do not even know and judge people they have no right to judge. So have fun I’m out of here and so what if you are 29 I am 27 and see straight through things as well. WHO CARES find something better to do than worry about making sure everyone knows every thing “Delilah” disapproves of in other peoples life for goodness sake. If you are a christian than we should agree on one thing that despite the fact he was with a christian group I just pray his soul was saved. And pray his parents are saved and also go to church and that Gods gives them peace and strength to get through this. I pray they have a wonderful support team and church family to support them in this time. But Delilah you and I both know that just because he was with a church group doesn’t mean everyone that goes is saved. come on it is six flags it wouldn’t be hard to gather a HUGE group of teens to go and have fun. Anyhow its been fun, I’m sure you can find others to argue with now after you write your rebuttal to me.
GOD BLESS YOU & I pray for strength for his friends and family and somehow someway they can get back to some kind of a normalcy in there life soon.

delilah goodine July 1, 2008, 7:56 PM

Ms. Lesley,

Thanks for your comment. I do have better things to do. I’m at work right now, and in between working, I do check my email from time to time. This story just touched me, that’s why I keep commenting on it. No, I am not Ms. Know-It-All, just a Leo(that’s my sign).I didn’t post my comment as a battle against other people’s words. I’m only combative when my words are taking the wrong the wrong way. I am not trying to argue with no one. We are on the computer, you are not in my face (no threat, so please don’t twist these words either, lol)And yes, I am a Christian. I don’t think his ‘religion’ was had anything to do with what happened. I didn’t say just because he was with church going people, then he’s holyier than thou, i was just saying he was probably raised in a church home. But i’m not arguing with you or nobody. Well, it’s 4:55 los angeles time, i got 5 minutes left before i clock out. ENJOY AND GOD BLESS YOU ALL. dngoodine@hotmail.com

Anonymous July 1, 2008, 11:42 PM

After reading several comments from various e-mail responders, I have come to the conclusion that we as an human race should now spend this time to educate our kids on the importance of safety on a daily basis. When you know better you ought to do better! How many times have we heard this as kids and adults. Many I bet. however, like adults, kids take certain aspects of life for granted. Quick question: Was there not ant of this young man’s friend advising him on the safety hazards. Some friends you had. WOW!!! Life is a theatre evaluate who you let sit in the front to watch your movie.

R Crocker  July 2, 2008, 10:05 AM

Thank you Delilah for your clarification. My oldest daughter, who was also 9 at the time did the same thing last summer while visiting with her father in Florida. Despite my specific instructions to have her wear a life jacket when swimming, she went to a water park and convinced her dad she knew how to swim and didnt need one, later she admitted that she did this because she noticed only the babies were wearing floaties or life jackets and she thought it would be embarrassing. Long story short, her father completely ignored my warning and allowed a 9 yr old to persuade him, the result was almost fatal, and could have cost me two of my daughters lives, because when my 9 year old went down the super slide into 11 ft of water she realized her feet could not touch the bottom, paniced, and inadvertantly began to pull my second oldest (who was wearing her floats) under while struggling to pull herself back up above the water”s surface. I put the responsibilty where responsibility was due, on her father first, but on her as well, because they both knew better, and I hope the near tragedy taught them something. But Had the situation gone differently, the tepmtation to tell her Father it was all his fault would have been overwhelming, I thank God I wasn’t faced with that scenario, however I know that either way—-had something gone very wrong, my kid’s father would still have known in his heart of hearts that it was because of him making a poor judgemet call, at that point I really wouldnt have had to point it out, the severe consequences of his choices (had they drowned) would have made that abundantly clear—-me verbally having to state the obvious at a point when something would be that abundantly clear would be something like throwing salt on an open wound, because regardless of whether I said it or not, he’d already know this and have to live with it forever. Like I said, I thank God I didnt have to even watch him earn that lesson! God really spared me, when he spared my daughters! This young man unfortunately has died for his choice, his family regardless of what happens will have to bear that forever as well. It makes me shutter to think of what children or adults even will have to bear when they fail to act responsibly, but I am most greatful whenever I see God’s grace bear the consequences for our actions, and it is my hope that I, as well as my daughters learn to walk in appreciation of that grace, so that we can offer it to others in their time of need, but most importantly learn not to abuse that grace, and heed warnings great and small.

So to Callimom, if that seems like me wearing rose colored glasses to you, then Im sorry that you dont know the emmense benefit of offering a little bit of relief, compassion or sunshine to those who are burdened with the darker truths and harshness of life, Ive needed a few roses to help me bear my trials along the way, and suspect I will at times again, it has never made me unrealistic about the nature of my situation, it has been seen as brief intervals of refuge during lifes harsh storms (some the storms I created and some others created for me) but has always made me overwhelmingly grateful.

Anonymous July 2, 2008, 12:38 PM

Harvey wrote: this is Darwinism in action folks…survival of the fitest…Darwin…keeping the weak links out of the gene pool since the dawn of species !

I suppose you think Hitler’s ideology was from Darwin’s “survival of the fittest”? Hitler ‘cleansing the gene pool’ keeping the weak out?

Your comments make no sense at all. It was an accident and even the most highly educated, beautiful, charming people die in accidents. This is not an example of Darwinism. Maybe you should go back and read your biology textbooks Harvey.

My thoughts and prayers are with the young boy’s family.

Anonymous July 2, 2008, 1:15 PM

I completely agree harvey has NO CLUE.

Grayson July 2, 2008, 2:49 PM

I was watching the news today and it said it was six flags fault.How?He climbed fences that saod do not enter.I feel bad for the family but it was the boys fault 100%

Brian July 2, 2008, 7:06 PM

I was just hoping 100 more people would comment the same thing, I haven’t heard enough the “young man” was wrong. :D

MsCompassionate July 2, 2008, 7:18 PM

Delilah, you still don’t understand do you? If the family decided to sue, that is up to them. As long as that money is not coming out of your pocket, don’t worry about it. The last thing that should have crossed your mind was money. Right now, a child’s life is more important. If the family received any money, it still will not take the place of that child who died at the amusement park.

delilah goodine July 2, 2008, 7:47 PM

MsCompassionate,

most of these people on this blog agree with me. the best thing for you to do is to read up on this story, THEN comment, because YOU don’t understand. If you paid attention to the news, which you didn’t, they said a little something about investigation, basically saying that they don’t believe the gate was properly cautioned. They said that the signs were decorated. I don’t care if it were a clown juggling balls on the sign, it still said keep away. when you finish your homework, HOLLA BACK!!!

delilah goodine July 2, 2008, 7:53 PM

MsCompassionate-

And besides, why are you attacking me? This happened on Saturday, today is Wednesday, I said what i had to say on Monday and Tuesday, when it was still like top news. Leave it alone, the situation is over. Why don’t you blog about the 49 year old woman who died in the waiting room on the hospital floor in Brooklyn, NY.

cat July 3, 2008, 4:57 PM

it is about a teenager that made the wrong choice and paid for it. it is sad.but we i would think have all made choices when young that if we look back on them “think boy that was stupid or dangerous” i know i have done some stupid things and only by The grace of God i did not get hurt.maybe some will see this as a warning, but when one is a teen they don’t think like adults and see things in the same light. God Bless him and family.

Vicki July 5, 2008, 6:09 PM

This really is a sad situation for everyone but especially the young man’s family. Our society has become sue happy and this is the reason for everyone’s blame someone else attitude. This is NOT Six Flags fault but a very tragic accident. However it will end up being a blame game instead of a lesson to be learned. We as a society do not take responsibility for our own actions anymore and our kids are learning to always point the finger at someone else. Sad situation. I feel so bad for the family but I hope they realize that this is bad judgment on the part of their 17 yr old, not the park. The more people file lawsuits, the more people put the blame on everyone else. At some point it needs to stop.

Anonymous July 6, 2008, 4:59 AM

he’ll never be the head of a major corporation

Anonymous July 6, 2008, 5:02 AM

he’ll never be the head of a major corporation

Anonymous July 6, 2008, 5:05 AM

he’ll never be the head of a major corporation


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