Members of Corinth Baptist Church in Gaffney headed to county-owned Cleveland Park on Saturday to participate in a children’s day event. What was supposed to be a fun-filled family event turned tragic when a miniature train overturned, killing a 6 year-old boy, and injuring 25 others.
Killed in the crash was Benjamin “Benji” Easler, son of Pastor Dwight Easler, who was injured in the wreck along with his two older sons, who suffered broken bones and facial scarring.
According to Spartanburg County Councilman David Britt, South Carolina State officials had inspected the ride and had conducted several test runs, just 3 days before the park opened for the season on Saturday. The ride had been operating for about an hour on opening day when the train’s track collapsed, causing it to derail and overturn.
As the result of this tragedy, South Carolina’s Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation, the agency who actually conducted the safety inspection of this ride, has suspended the operation of statewide amusement park trains.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission(CPSC) has found that from 1993 to 2000, the risk of injury on a fixed-site amusement park ride increased from 15.3 injuries per million attendance, to 20.8 injuries per million attendance. In spite of the increase in amusement ride injuries, Congress has refused to give the CPSC jurisdiction to investigate accidents at amusement parks. An amusement park can be held responsible for injuries due to negligence, product liability, and premises liability.