Saturday, June 3, 2017

Muskrats with Common Sense/Questions

From the Tuscumbia Muskrat:

First, I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude to Tuscumbia's Mayor Underwood, who responded quickly to this past week's Spring Park roller coaster incident. That being said, on Friday, June 2nd Mayor Underwood addressed the roller coaster incident that occurred on Wednesday, May 31st. He provided a summary of what caused six children to become stranded on Spring Park's roller coaster. 

First let's get a clear picture of the roller coaster in question. The Python Coaster is a single train with 5 cars. Riders are arranged 2 across in a single row for a possible total of 10 riders. The coaster cars ride on an 11.5 foot single helix track. The coaster does not operate with a motor for motion. It generates its motion by pulling the cars to the top by chain and then allowing gravity to take care of the rest. The Python Coaster has been in operation at Tuscumbia's Spring Park since 2005. 

Now ... how did it get stuck? Here is a summary of Mayor Underwood's explanation as confirmed by the roller coaster's manufacturer: On Wednesday, May 31st the Python Coaster could not descend the top of the hill because the majority of the passengers were located in the back car. Once the front of the coaster tipped the hill it did not have enough weight for gravity to pull the coaster forward. When this occurred the coaster's safety feature (aka rollback brakes) locked in order to ensure that the coaster did not go backwards.
This makes perfect sense, right? Yes this explains the "mechanical issue" but was that the real safety complaint expressed by parents and others at the scene?

The apparent "in charge" park employee for that evening did not handle the incident with professional and courteous care. In fact the park employee's solution was to order two teenaged city employees to climb up an average ladder to retrieve the six children. An eyewitness overheard one of the teens state that this plan wasn't safe. Was this presumably Tuscumbia's protocol for retrieving passengers from the top of their stuck roller coaster?!? (And with tearful, frightened children) This incident is disturbing not because of the mechanical breakdown but how a Tuscumbia City Employee put six children and two teenaged city employees in harms way. 

Yes, Mayor Underwood did address this issue. He stated that the city would look at new ways to help the children off the coaster if this occurred again. Okay that's a great idea, but I can't be the only person asking why wasn't there ALREADY a safety evacuation procedure in place? After all, this was not the first time that the coaster had been stuck. Remember it's been in operation since 2005. How did they disembark the ride in the past?

Mayor Underwood stated that all Spring Park rides are inspected daily. He also mentioned that park employees were aware of the safety features (aka rollback brakes) on the coaster but just didn't know how to disembark the passengers once they are stuck on the ride. What?!? 

Alright then - if that is true, and the city employees are knowledgeable, then why weren't the passengers loaded properly (with equal distribution of passengers in the front & back cars) in order for the coaster to operate correctly? Can we truly trust the daily inspection of the park rides when clearly the park staff does not seem to know how the ride functions? 

So why did Mayor Underwood contact the ride manufacturer? Mayor Underwood's was first provided an incorrect assessment from park staff of the issue being a "malfunction" as stated in the Times Daily - "Mayor Kerry Underwood said the chain that lifts the coaster did not release the coaster so it could go down, and that left riders stuck on top of the ride." "Underwood said he has been told this is not the first time the malfunction has occurred, and he is investigating to find out if that is true." (Bernie Delinski Staff Writer, Jun 2, 2017) 

I assume the manufacturer solved the problem and provided an explanation of the coaster's safety feature - rollback breaks stop the cars from going backwards. So it wasn't a malfunction as stated by the staff who inspect the cars daily. Once again this could of been avoided by loading the cars for proper weight distribution. It all comes down to "lack of knowledge". Our Park Director does not have his staff trained. 

So why is this an issue now? Let's face it, would Mayor Underwood even be discussing this if not for a Facebook post with over 1,000+ shares that led to local newspaper articles & local TV reports. We all know that mechanical failures happen. That's a fact! Leadership and preparation should always be maintained, especially when such failures are inevitable. The true concern is that our Park Manager has not prepared his full-time or seasonal employees on proper ride operations & safety protocols. May 31st's incident could have been preventable with knowledge and training. It's a shame that the mayor cannot rely on his park director. Instead he is forced to turn toward the guidance of a safety consultant because of lackluster park management. 

By the way - Before the city took over the Spring Park attractions, Harvey Robbins had an excellent staff who were well trained and passionate about the maintenance and safety of the rides. I suggest that Mayor Underwood consider consulting with this group first!



We've been asked if we plan to post more on NWSCC? We've published all we've received so far. An interesting aside, on most issues we usually see 50-50 views or 90-10 views. On this topic, we're seeing about 60-40 views condemning the local community college. If you have sent us an editorial and haven't seen it published, please resend.

A post by ET in which he mentioned an effeminate twerp? That was totally his description and not ours. We've looked at the gentleman's FB page and believe it belongs to a transgender female to male (if we have that backwards, we apologize). That is entirely that person's right. So he doesn't like our blog? Fine; that is also his right. He doesn't like the three Shoals news sites that post at least once a week? He doesn't seem to like much, does he? 



  1. At least the Quadcities Daily and Pen N Sword have original material. Shoals Insider just has copy and paste.