State records show 63 reported injuries at local amusement parks in recent years

KSAT Defenders find injuries range from broken teeth, to amputated finger

SAN ANTONIO – In the past week SeaWorld San Antonio has had two incidents resulting in injury or death to park guests.

Last Sunday, a 5-year-old girl was killed after she was run over by a truck in the parking lot. Last night, a woman was transported to a hospital after she was found unconscious in a tube after going down a water slide at SeaWorld's Aquatica waterpark.

SeaWorld officials said the middle-aged woman "experienced what appeared to be a personal health issue."

The incidents are just some of the dozens of injuries that have happened at local amusement parks in recent years.

With many families hitting area amusement parks this week, the KSAT Defenders looked to see how many injuries have occurred at local parks and how the state regulates the rides.

According to records kept by the Texas Department of Insurance, there have been 63 injuries requiring medical attention reported at area amusement parks since 2013.

"Amusement ride operators in Texas are required to report to the Texas Department of Insurance any injuries that occur during the operation of a ride that require attention from a physician," said Jerry Hagins, a TDI spokesperson.

According to the records, SeaWorld reported ten injuries to guests ranging from minor cuts to back and neck injuries, most of which appear to have happened on water slides.

Six Flags San Antonio also had ten reportable injuries that included cuts, bruises and even a partial amputation of a guest's finger and a broken leg.

Splashtown had six injuries, including two accidents where guests ended up with broken teeth.
At ZDT's Amusement Park in Seguin, nine guests ended up with cuts that required stitches, chipped teeth and neck and back injuries.

The Kiddie Park recorded four minor injuries, while the San Antonio Zoo and JW Marriott each had one reportable injury.

Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels had the most incidents, racking up 23 reported accidents, including minor cuts and bruises caused by bumps from riders hitting other guests or the slides.

Hagins said while the state regulates amusement park rides, it does not inspect them.

"All amusement ride operators are required to have an insurance policy for each ride, and then they have to have that ride inspected annually by the insurance company or an inspector that they contract with," Hagins said.

Once an insurance provider inspects a ride the state issues a sticker that Hagins said park visitors should look for.

"It should be displayed prominently on each ride," Hagins said. "It's good for one year and it will show that the insurance policy is current and in force and that the ride was inspected."

The state's injury reports are only available through the end of 2017.

Hagins said park visitors can go to its website to see how many injuries have been reported at any park and to see who is currently in compliance.

He also said to always follow the warnings for each ride before getting on and make sure children are the correct height and weight to ride an attraction.

About the Author:

Tim Gerber is an investigative reporter and anchor on the KSAT Defenders team.