World's Second Tallest Roller Coaster Shut Down Permanently After Woman Hit on Head by Metal Bracket
Ride was "constantly breaking down."
The ride has come to an end for the world's second-tallest rollercoaster, which has been permanently shuttered after it produced a piece of flying metal that seriously injured a bystander. On Tuesday, Cedar Point park in Ohio announced it would close the 420-foot-tall Top Thrill Dragster, which has been sitting idle for a year after the accident. Read on to find out what happened, what it was like to ride the coaster—which at one point was the world's tallest—and which amusement park can boast the world's new #2.
In August 2021, an L-shaped metal bracket about the size of a hand flew off the coaster and struck Rachel Hawes, 45, as she was waiting to board the ride. She was hospitalized in intensive care and suffered a serious brain injury, her family said. A five-month state investigation cleared the amusement park—it found no evidence that the park acted illegally or had reason to believe the ride was unsafe. But the ride has been closed since the accident. About 18 million guests rode the ride, which sent riders in the air at a speed of 120 miles per hour in just under 4 seconds, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.
Park officials didn't attribute the ride's closure to the accident. In fact, they gave no reason for the decision, saying that the park's "legacy of ride innovation continues" in a statement. They added: "Our team is hard at work, creating a new and reimagined ride experience." It said more details about its plans would be disclosed in the future. "After 19 seasons in operation with 18 million riders experiencing the world's first strata coaster, Top Thrill Dragster, as you know it, is being retired," tweeted Tony Clark, the director of communications at Cedar Point.
When the Dragster opened in 2003 at a cost of $25 million, it was the world's tallest rollercoaster. The Detroit Free Press reports it "attracted long lines, in part because it was the thrill of a lifetime, but also because it was constantly breaking down — not so much that it put people in danger, but cars would race up the track at more than 100 mph and, at the summit, it stalled and fell back to Earth." In 2005, the Dragster yielded its tallest-coaster title to Kingda Ka at Six Flags in Jackson Township, New Jersey.
In the Free Press, writer Frank Witskil described what it was like to ride the Top Thrill Dragster, saying it "worked like a slingshot. Hydraulic pressure shot you down a half-mile track, tipped you over the top and sent you racing down the other side. It would take you to 120 mph in 4 seconds and directly up 420 feet … It went so fast, if you sat in the coaster's front car, it would blow your contacts right out of your eyes."
The closure makes a roller coaster in Barcelona, Spain, the world's second tallest, but it will lose that title in less than a year. Red Force at Ferrari PortAventura features a 356-foot drop and goes from 0 to 112 mph in five seconds. In 2023, the world's second tallest coaster will be … Kingda Ka, the current #1. It will be supplanted at the top by the opening of Falcon's Flight at Six Flags Qiddiya in Saudi Arabia, which will boast a 525-foot summit.