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Teen Decapitated at Six Flags

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


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.

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92 comments so far | Post a comment now
GEEZ!! July 6, 2008, 7:26 AM


candee July 6, 2008, 2:51 PM

We have all been teenager’s and have done things against our better judgement. He lost his life going after something he lost on the ride. That is the main point. yes it is tragic and sad. the warning signs were there and he thought like all other teens im young nothing will happen to me. there isnt a person in the world that could say that they haven’t been there. he made a tragic mistake and lost his life.

candee July 6, 2008, 2:57 PM

oh yeah what did him being african american have to do with anything????

Brenton July 7, 2008, 9:48 PM

As sad as this is to say, most people in life feel like they are really invincible to anything and you can bring up hundreds or thousands of things like this were someone thinks they got it and it takes something like the death of a young man to prove it. I am a 18 year old African-American, and I’m ashamed to say but todays generation has gone out of control and have lost any common sense. But instead of pointing fingers when just need to take this as a life lesson. Do you honestly believe he was the only teenager doing this? There are plenty around even now who are saying it wasn’t me from this situation and it’s sending the wrong message by blaming one another.

Luse July 9, 2008, 9:38 PM

Lesley, from reading your comment the last thing I found interesting is the fact that you said you were not gonna argue with Deliliah; yet your comment was at least 1000 words.. A word to you is… be true to yourself and mean what you say!!! That was very immature and redundant; I totally agree with Deliliah. Everyone have different opinions, that is what these comments are for!! I am a criminal justice professional and a honest person would agree with the racial segregation of the world; Deliliah was correct in referencing that incident to “BLACKS”. I automatically figured the guy was white. The fact of the matter is whether black or white, my opinion did not change and the boy is dead!!

Luse July 9, 2008, 9:53 PM

Anonymous- first of all that comment was not funny. If you’re into making jokes you should call BET or MTV “who wants to be a comedian”

It’s obvious that this young man will never be the head of a major corporation and neither will you, and according to your significant other, she can’t find your head in bed and you shall continue to remain “anonymous”

Mr. Guy July 10, 2008, 6:52 PM

Of course we all know this kids parents are going to try and sue the park. Why, because they are niggers. Even though this is a sad and tragic event, the parents will look at it a meal ticket because they are niggers. They know that it was their sons fault for not reading the signs and jumping the fence. Too bad they are niggers and will try to blame it on the park anyway.

cg July 14, 2008, 7:57 PM

hey, i got a question-not for nothin’ but how come Deliliah was lambasted (ripped to shreds)for her intial insensitive comments but this last posting from “mr. guy” noone has even touched?! he blatantly uses the n-word and regardless of the situation that is NEVER APPROPRIATE. come ml bloggers…

Malice July 15, 2008, 7:24 PM

Hi mom!

delilah goodine July 15, 2008, 7:46 PM

why are my comments not being posted???

delilah goodine July 15, 2008, 7:51 PM

i guess i can’t say what i feel, but mr. guy calls people niggers, and that’s ok, right?

delilah goodine July 15, 2008, 7:58 PM

so i guess my comments are harsh. i made 5 comments and not one has been posted. they’ve been held for approval. i din’t use not one swear word. mr guy uses racial slurs. i see his posting. what about my postings?

Taylor July 17, 2008, 3:17 PM

My mother told me what had happened and i feel very sorry for the family. I lost my brother from drugs not but 4 months ago and i still cant believe it happened. I hope that other kids learn from this as do from my brothers mistake. And all i have to say to Harvey and all you other racist people are you are A**H**** and that is all i have to say. I am not black but i do have alot of black friends. And you know what HARVEY what goes around comes around and i hope that it is a very bad thing. I do admit that there are people in the world i hate but i would never ever in my life be like you people!!!!! I hope that all goodness comes to the family and that my whole family is giving all we can to you. The days will not get easyer for a long time. Just remeber dont stand at his grave and weep cuz he is not there his is next to you today and all days untill you see him again.
With all my heart and love

helen July 22, 2008, 6:27 PM

How IRONIC…… to lose your head over a lost hat.

Helen July 22, 2008, 6:44 PM

Dang Crocker.. thought you were writing a novel!!!! My eyes were starting to cross trying to finish your repetitive ranting. lol

stinkybrat41 July 24, 2008, 2:14 PM

Delilah, i agree w/ you.i would enjoy checking in every now and then to see what was posted at ml-although this is the 1st time i’ve checked in since my last posting in the beginning of july-this one is my last. I just can’t be part of something that allows anyone to degrade, disrespect and treat a whole race of people in the undignified manner in which “mr.guy” chose to at his last posting and i’m very disappointed at ml for allowing his hurtful rant to remain instead of getting rid of it. This used to be fun,now not so much.

Azure July 25, 2008, 5:32 PM

I am a parent and when I came across this story I called my three teens in. Talked to them about this situation. The 17yo young man made a very tragic mistake, no doubt about that. I told my kids that sometimes the warning signs are NOT so obvious as what was posted on those two fences, so that it’s important that when I tell them what they are doing is dangerous that they need to take heed.

Do I think that the amusement park should be sued? No. Simply put - they put up the warning signs and not one but TWO fences.

We all make choices in life that affect us and those around us. Think of the other teen that scaled the fence with him? Imagine how that person feels? It’s a shame that the young sometimes go where Angels know better than to tread and tragedy strikes. I have two boys that are notoriously going where Angels fear to tread. As a parent I do my best, as I am sure the other parents did, to make sure that they are taught to look for even the lesser signs of danger and avoid it.

We as “spectators” from a distance really do not know the whole story. Be mindful what you wish for in revenge on another. And be mindful that since we don’t have the WHOLE picture to not pass judgment.

Caring July 29, 2008, 2:47 PM

What is wrong with you people?? A child died here. Teenagers always do things they shouldn’t (don’t you remember being a teen) I think all of you who are saying negative things about this topic should start attending church. Then maybe you will feel sympathy and caring toward others. You wouldn’t feel the need to be “brutally honest.” In my opinion people who are brutally honest are just to stupid to knowwhen to shut their mouths. My sympathy goes out to this family. No one should ever have to lose their child no matter what the scenario. Can you imagine what pain you experience from the death of a child? You would never be the same again.

Wanikee Davis August 16, 2008, 2:12 AM

My heart goes out for the family and friends of this young man. If anyone out there personally know how it feels to loose a child would have compassion for this young man. I live near Gurnee, IL, the are where Six Flags exist. In traveling on Washington St. I often wonder why the fence is so low. I’m sure I’m not the only person who asked this question to myself and others. There is a lot of dangerous equipment under the rides and over the fences, so pre-caution should be taken to ensure no one, whether signs are posted or not, can’t access the park. The area is not supervised at all. Anyone can go over the fence. What if someone was intoxicated or someone was in trouble and thought to themselves that I can use this route to get away or run to. Like any thing that’s dangerous, the area is either locked or not easy access. The park needs to ensure everyone’s safety, whether the signs are posted or if someone ignores the rules and regulations. There is a strong possibility that Asia would still be alive if he could not get over the fence.

Anonymous September 5, 2008, 11:03 AM

My haeart goes out to all those who witnessed this tragedy and had to clean it up. My heart also goes out to the families as well. Teenagers, like we once were, always seem to think they “know it all” attitudes and are the best of the best. Its up to all adults, mothers/fathers and older siblings as well to keep reminding them of what could happen to them if the wrong decision is made. Give them examples and show them examples (if possible) of the consequences that may take place by their wrong decisions. Once seen with their own eyes, they may think twice about making the decision that would be wrong. There are many places, people and things that we protect our little ones from ever seeing that they never clearly understand or believe the consequences of their actions. Prisons, hospitals, disability and mental wards, actual video/dvd tapes of poor decisions and actions of others may help them see the TRUE consequences of what they may be thinking or even trying to do. TV and most movies, even video games have brought what was play acting into reality. Nowadays is there is so much violence and poor decisions from TV that allows our children to have the attitude of “that only happens on TV, in the movies or on videos”. That, it couldn’t be like that in real life. Even though it is and some times the consequences are even worse. What the teenagers seem to be doing now is so much more dangerous and daring than when we were teenagers. Peer pressure also plays a major role in it as well. They face either doing the bad decision or getting beat up/picked on and teased if they don’t go along with the bad decision or should I say “dare” coming from another person/friend. They may hate us for trying to protect them from harm of all kinds but later on when they become an adult and look back, they will be forever grateful to the one person who did save them from the harm. It really is worth all the effort and hatred thrown at you for saving someone than for the one you love to suffer immensly or even die because you did not take the time or effort to teach them. May God Bless his family and friends and all those who had to clean up the mess caused by the one who used poor judgement. God Bless all those who witnessed the incident. Show your loved ones the right way to do things and they will follow. If you do the right thing, they will most likely do the same. For those who choose not to, will have to learn by suffering the consequences. If it doesn’t happen the first time, or the second time, eventually the suffering of the consequences will happen and all you can do is pray that they learn from it and don’t repeat it and pass it on to others thinking and trying to do the same wrong thing that they did before its too late. Bless everyone :)

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