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    Six Flags New England: Where It All Went Wrong on Superman Ride of Steel

    Ride of Steel Drop

    In 2004, a tragic incident took place on Six Flags: New England’s Superman — Ride of Steel resulting in the death of one rider. This accident was an avoidable loss of life that would forever change the industry standard of lap restraints on mega coasters such as the Ride of Steel. 

    Superman — Ride of Steel opened in Six Flags: New England in 2000, boasting a 221-foot drop and a price tag of approximately $12,000,000. The ride was manufactured by Intamin and became a staple of the park for many years to come.

    Superman Ride of Steel at Six Flags New England
    Rene Schwietzke, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

    The ride’s history is turbulent with a record of two significant incidents occurring within the ride’s first four years of operation. The first incident took place in August, 2001, a little over a year after the ride first opened to the public. On August 6, one of the coaster trains failed to slow and come to a stop at the final brake run and collided with the back of another waiting train at the loading station.

    This resulted in twenty two passengers being transported to the hospital. Thankfully, there were no major injuries as a result of this incident, and the ride reopened a few weeks later on August 18 after modifications were made to the malfunctioned brake run.

    The most severe accident took place three years later on May 1, 2004. Stanley J. Mordasky, a 55-year-old man from Connecticut, boarded the ride. According to family members, Mordasky suffered from various health conditions including cerebral palsy which prevented the t-bar lap restraint from settling firmly across his lap. Ride operators failed to double check that the bar was properly in place, and, as the coaster raced through its final turn, Mordasky was ejected from the ride and tragically fell to his death. 

    Following the tragic event, an investigation was launched to determine the cause of Mordasky’s fall. Six Flags quickly pinned the blame on Mordasky himself, citing that they followed protocol according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, which allows disabled people to board rides so long as they can enter by themselves. Mordasky, despite using a mobility scooter for his condition, was able to stand and seat himself in the ride that day. Blame also fell upon the ride operator who failed to check that the lap bar was secured across Mordasky’s thighs.

    Regardless of who is at fault, this tragic accident was avoidable with a different restraint system. In fact, following the accident, Six Flags New England equipped the coaster trains with additional lap bar supports that enclosed the rider’s legs more securely. Additionally, all of the seatbelts were replaced. 

    Since the incident in 2004, Superman — Ride of Steel has maintained an almost spotless track record with no serious issues since. 

    Ride of Steel Drop

    The ride itself has been re-themed twice over the years as Bizarro (another DC Comics character) in 2009 and Superman The Ride in 2016. The ride is still operational in Six Flags New England to this day.