[UPDATED] Man Dies from Roller Coaster Fall at Rodeo Houston

Categories: Spaced City

himiler.jpg
Photo by Jeff Balke
Update at the bottom of the story.

The Hi-Miler taken at last year's rodeo carnival.

A man fell 28 feet to his death from the HiMiler roller coaster in the waning moments of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo season.

The 46-year-old was given CPR at the scene before being taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. In addition, the man fell on someone, who suffered a broken ankle as a result.

According to the Houston Chronicle story on the incident, Leroy Shafer, the vice president and chief operating officer of the rodeo, says this is the first death at the carnival in 38 years.

Inspectors, including Shafer, said they thoroughly checked the ride and found no malfunctions, but they are investigating.

The Houston Press has written about the dangers of roller coasters dating back to our 2004 story Thrilled to Death. Last year, as part of a series on the rides at the carnival, Hair Balls blogged about the Hi-Miler coaster:

We didn't ride the Hi-Miler, instead leaving the roller coaster to 11-year-old Hair Balls correspondent Jade Matusow and our excellent photographer, Jeff Balke. As you'll see below, neither rated the ride with a very high barf or scream factor. But they still seemed harried afterward. Balke described the ride as "painful" and "more violent than the Texas Cyclone." (Ah, AstroWorld, you live on in our hearts and minds.) Matusow said she thought her leg might be bruised.

In the comments section, the same day the story went up, I personally commented on the experience:

It WAS painful! No gentle curves on this one, just abrupt u-turns at the top of each bump that jarred you against the non-padded metal side of the car.

I tried to be all cool and shoot a couple photos with the point-and-shoot but abandoned that idea within about 15 seconds as I realized my hand was needed much more for keeping me from flying out the side of the car than for shooting purty pictures.

But, the fear of riding the Hi-Miler pales in comparison to injuries detailed in our 2004 story Rodeo Hat Trick, in which injuries received on the rodeo carnival ride Euro Slide, which was in operation this year, went unreported by Ray Cammack Shows, the carnival ride operator contracted by the rodeo.

According to the Chronicle story, Ray Cammack Shows has contracted with the rodeo for 12 years; however, the company had been with the rodeo for ten years at the time of the Press story.

There appear to be no annual lists of injuries and fatalities at both carnivals and fixed amusement parks, though the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission does allow queries of their database for injuries reported by hospitals possibly related to amusement parks. In 2004, the CPSC published a comprehensive report finding there were an estimated 2,500 injuries that year and an average of 4.4 fatalities each year at all carnivals and amusement parks from 1997 through 2004. Their numbers indicated that fewer fatalities could be attributed to mobile rides used at carnivals.

The Texas Department of Insurance, which has oversight of amusement parks, publishes a list of quarterly injury reports submitted by amusement park operators. There were five reported injuries in 2005 at the rodeo carnival ranging from sprained ankles to bloody noses, but there were none reported between 2006 and 2010, indicating either there were no injuries or no reports filed by the operator.

Ray Cammack Shows details their safety policies on their Web site:

RCS is committed to providing the safest and friendliest environment possible. "We're a family owned and operated business," says President and CEO Guy Leavitt, "and many of our employees' children ride these rides, so you can be confident that safety is a priority."

RCS performs daily computerized ride and equipment inspections using automated maintenance management created by RCS. Additionally, all rides are inspected during setup and takedown.

Not only does RCS have a comprehensive maintenance and inspection schedule, they also take steps to make certain their ride operators and midway workers are trained and knowledgeable regarding safety and cleanliness. That's why all employees must pass a drug screening test and complete a rigorous training and orientation program.

At the time of posting, Hair Balls was awaiting a return call from someone at the Texas Department of Insurance for clarification on what the requirements are for submitting injury reports and how post-injury investigations are handled.

Update:

According to reports, the operator of the Hi-Miler roller coaster was not looking at the roller coaster when Brian Greenhouse fell 28 feet to his death, but, after inspection, officials are still baffled as to how Greenhouse was able to leave his seat.

The car Greenhouse was riding in was inspected immediately after the fall, and the leg-restraint and locking mechanisms weren't compromised, Leroy Shafer, the Rodeo's chief operating officer, told Hair Balls. He said he sat in the same car to test it out himself, and found that he couldn't move past the leg restraint.

"That's what gets so perplexing about this thing, is how did this person come out of that car?" he said, adding that inspectors are running every conceivable test on the equipment.

Several of the people directly behind Greenhouse left after the ride ended and officials are still looking for witnesses to come forward.

"There was a lot of people on the ground in the area, in both directions...if anybody out there saw this guy actually come out of the car, we would really like to talk to them," Shafer said.

Shafer is asking anyone who actually saw Greenhouse come out of his seat to call 832-667-1000.

"I cannot tell you how saddened the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is about this," he told us. "We pride ourselves on being a family-affordable, family-friendly, family-safe entertainment operation....We're going to do everything we can to determine what happened here and take any measures feasible to us to see that it doesn't happen again."


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73 comments
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Anabolic Steroids
Anabolic Steroids

i've always thought coasters were dangerous especially the fair ground temporary ones.

Michael Hunt
Michael Hunt

Two Words: Natural SelectionI just wish there was a few more over the past 38 years, gotta keep the gene pool trim and healthy.

We should start calling being a retard and falling to your death "The Greenhouse Effect", oh wait is that already taken?

Thehappypig24
Thehappypig24

They say they inspect the rides, but we were there before the rides started and all they did was 1 trial run and 1 person seats in just one place. The rest is basically to wait until people have accidents. When I was little, my seatbelt came undone from one of those flying chairs. I remember telling the operator that it was not locking properly before I got on the ride, but when I tried to get out they told me they had already started the ride and there was no way to stop it. I ended up falling from the seat and just holding myself from the chains. Some gentlemen ventured inside with the flying chairs and grabbed me before I fell flat on the floors. These machines break, and these greedy owners don't care until a fatality happens, and then they blame it on the injured person.

TheHappyPig
TheHappyPig

My guess is that the coaster operators were in such a hurry because of the lines that they did not checked properly. The fact that when they checked the cart it was locked does not mean that it was while the rider was in it. I am an overweight person, and for that arm to be locked they had to push really hard on my stomach. I wonder if the person was too overweight or obese to be on the ride and it was not locked enough. My kid rode the ride and says the wind lifts you up(of course he is only 80 lbs), but still, the wind force can lift anybody, and if it was not locked properly, any kind of sudden movement will open the machine arm. The fact that he was riding alone makes it even more impossible to determine it if was locked properly or not.When we went to the carnival on Friday, most of those operators were not even looking to make sure people got in well and were tied enough. As soon as people sat, they started the ride. They were not checking properly. I don't think it the fact that the person was drunk, or drugged, or anything like that caused the fall. It could increase the chances or perhaps his reaction, but certainly it was not going to cause him to fall from a machine that is supposed to keep you under pressure.

lexlex
lexlex

And also, this isnt a racial issue. How do yall know he was drunk? I say everyone needs to think possitively and pray only for the good.

lexlex
lexlex

dont hate the rider, hate the ride. :)

guest
guest

It proves nothing if the restraint mechanism stays locked when the car is stationary. What matters is to check the restraint when it is under load (with a person approximately the same shape and weight as the rider) AND torquing in the same manner as it would have been at the time the restraint came open (if it did). The best example is that if your house has foundation problems, the doors may latch just fine when the ground is moist, but in times of drought, the soil contracts, the house shifts, and you may find that your front door does not latch properly.

Oh Brother
Oh Brother

FYI, 1)the car the guy was riding in was inspected and there wasn't anything malfunctioning.2) The incident didn't even happen on the fastest part of the ride, it happened on a slower portion, and 3) the incident happened at a part of the ride where the car was horizontal to the ground. Now, what do all of these things tell you?

lulu
lulu

I don't know about anyone else but I went on that ride when I don't even like rides. I have to say it was a little bunny and kinda wabbly. All in all, I liked it. I do feel bad a the guy who died, but it could have gone both ways. I mean I read some who said she " was fat and could fit" but come on, they told my friend in another ride that she couldn't get on because she was to big. Really? Other then that, he either did something he shouldn't have done and stupid or something really was wrong with the roller coaster. Either way, something bad came out of it!

gisela
gisela

I rode the roller coaster that same day n got off from it with a head ache n pain on my head. The harsh movements of the coaster made my head move too much causing my neck to hurt. That was the last ride I got on that day.

Fatality predictable
Fatality predictable

I sued Ray Cammack Shows when a lady caught her foot on loose and bunched up carpeting at the base of the big Euroslide. Despite knowing about the condition for several hours, and despite another injury, the personnel did nothing. My client's ankle was shattered. She no longer can run, though she was a marathoner. At trial, I caught all their witnesses in lie after lie. This company is dangerous. The don't report injuries of any kind, then tell the public they are safe. They don't inspect, they don't fix things, and they lie about dangers they know about. I hope they get shut down.

KingoftheEStop
KingoftheEStop

Unfortunately the Texas Amusement Ride Safety and Insurance Act, which covers the safe operation of amusement rides in this state, is largely self regulated. There is no state level enforcement of the present rules and regulations, which lack any sort of regulatory guidance or sustenance at this point. As side from a few minor requirements, TARSIA basically only requires a few things, A. a daily safety check be performed. B. An annual $40 filing fee be paid to the state. C. Valid liability insurance for the ride. (which includes a required annual inspection by the insurance company) The present system is broken, it allows for to much self regulation and not enough state regulation and routine inspection as to the overall operation and safety of any given ride operating publicly. Frankly the little operation permits they hand out, really aren't worth the paper they are written on.

Even for the rules that are currently in place, the state largely fails to enforce the laws because there are certain attractions at the local arcade which meet the definition of a class A or class B amusement ride, but fail to hold any sort of operating permit or liability insurance. For the major rides, so long as its insured and the fee is paid, no body from the state is going to check on it till somebody gets injured or killed. While most of the major operators work hard to maintain the safest rides possible, there are also a number of operators who abuse the system.

Private
Private

You know who's fault it is...the people that let you on the ride. They are just too lazy to go take the time to check to make sure the buckle is locked. It is sad that a lazy person wouldn't want to check and next thing you know someone is dead.

Melissa
Melissa

i rode that ride. the day before.

Surfangel98
Surfangel98

my understanding he stood up.....from people who witnessed it....it's sad..but not knowing what really happen I dont think that people should be making comments that they do not know the truth to be...who knows he could have had a lot to drink, on drugs the fact is its sad and the poor people who witnessed this is very shook up...I know this my daughter is very shook up and could not sleep all night, and had to be picked up from school...as a child having to try and get this out of your head is difficult...all we can do is pray for them and the family...

howyadoin
howyadoin

Ray Cammack Shows doesn't own this roller coaster, or the Euro slide. An independent contractor does.

Tavo
Tavo

people i know what happen. The poor guy was fat the safety the belt wasnt big enough for him and they still let him on when the coster was going down he fell down and landed on someone.

Munecaa123
Munecaa123

The ride wasnt that scaryy only when it goes down...but theres no way you could fall from the seat

Hevychevy11
Hevychevy11

Me and my 3 year old son and my wife where at the rodeo when this happened none of the rides there are safe and half of the employees who run these rides don't speak English much less care if they are safe, the rollercoaster they had set up for little kids was incredibly fast and rough I strongly believe places like rcs should be shut down there rides are cheap and there employees are people who are highschool dropouts and can't get a job anywhere else or who are illegal aliens working for less than minimum wage, I think it's sad what are country is coming to, the fun rides at the rodeo aren't there anyone now there just death traps with illegal aliens and highschool drop outs operating them

Josyloredo
Josyloredo

I felt sad when i found out about this, and a lot of feelings came back. It doesnt matter what they say It's the RIDES! This exact ride it the responsible of me not getting on any more rides, being that I was always looking for the extreme ones 2years ago at the Houston rodeo my daughter at the time 9 and I rode this ride in the front car and almost to the end of the ride the security lock came undone and found my daughter and I loose, I used my arms and pushing down my legs as hard as a could to keep us from flying off. Yelling them to stop it but got mixed with the other screams, thank god if was a bit before the last turn and it wasn't as sharp as the start. I went to their office to make a report and they denied it saying their rides were the most secures. If they had done something about it this would have happened.

Michele
Michele

We were there. Very close. The man fell on noone.

Vioetandrade24
Vioetandrade24

that ride really goes fast and everyone could flip over and fall, but please ppl have some respect..

Ejgifford
Ejgifford

My girlfriends son also was injured last night on a seat that had no bolts in a seat that should have had 4! Someone should shut these guys down as they obviously do not care about customer safety!

Lizette
Lizette

Agree with "Oh Brother" This was no a dangerous ride, i went on the bungee and nothing happened. He was probably being foolish or didnt take the safety precautions of the ride seriously.

Oh Brother
Oh Brother

More than likely the guy caused his own demise somehow.

Awes88
Awes88

Really.... Nice way to get business

Saint
Saint

The last night of the Rodeo, right before closing.... Everyone was drunk including me.

Jstaggs66
Jstaggs66

I was a carnival Ride Operator for 3 years and I am almost positive this accident was due to operator error. If the man was overweight it is possible the restraint locked down but not far enough to properly keep the man secured in the car.That's the only way this guy could have had room to come out of the seat, especially if he was overweight.The operators should have properly checked the restraint to ensure the man was in securely. I can tell you all that a leg restraint/lap bar can lock in place and not be locked down far enough to be secure.I operated a coaster from time to time and once this kid pulled the bar down himself, but it wasn't pulled down far enough for a person his size. I had to push the bar down far enough to secure the rider.The proper way to check is to 1) push down on the restraint. If it clicks down even once more, it wasn't locked down enough for that rider. 2) After pushing down on the restraint/lap bar you pull up on it. If it doesn't pull up you're good. If the restraint has any give in it it's got a possible malfunction.The operator should always make sure a rider's restraint is completely locked down as far as it can. An operator should never leave "a little breathing room ". If the restraint is that uncomfortable, they are probably too big to safely ride.

Kata Robata
Kata Robata

my sister was on one of the rides this rodeo and her harness came undone mid ride , the operator stopped the ride and slowly brought her to a upright position and brought her down and told her she needed to get off the ride . when she asked why they told her here and handed her a bunch of tickets and dismissed her . confused one of her friends showed her a photo they took of her where clearly the harness was not locked down so she went back to the ride and they told her she was mistaken and shooed her away and said she was wrong and nothing was wrong with the rideshe was just to big . she is a larger woman but not any larger than a 5 foot 9 inch man of average size . this did not make sense. i hope the company admits fault and not try to silence the family of the man who died . the general counsel for the hlsr has cotacted her and asked her not to speak to anyone else and to come see them asap, now they want to talk to her . my heart goes out to the family of the gentleman who died and i hope the operators get their act together .

Curious
Curious

How did the suit turn out for you?

Chaparra
Chaparra

Yes there is, I found out he was riding the first car just like I did, and my lap safety came undone, was lucky enough that wAs at the end of the ride!

Seal183
Seal183

I've worked for RCS as a ride operator on the Hydro Slide. I'm retired and it was a decent paying job to supplement my retirement pay. For the most part I know for a Fact everyone who works for RCS is legal, they are an Arizona company and have to use the E-verify system. Most of the ride operators are from Mexico or South Africa. Most of those rides cost upwards of 100s of thousands of dollars. Most accidents go unreported, the company pays the people off quickly. They threaten employees from filing workmans comp claims. Most accidents are the fault of the guests. Acting like fools, not paying attention to what they are doing. Parents will force kids onto rides without even watching what the ride does.I have rode the HiMiller after it was set up to test it with other employees and I was scared when the front car lap bar would not lock, My legs and arms were so sore after going around 3 times from having to hold myself into the car. The operators barely speak english and laugh at guests who get scared. now granted it is a roller coaster and it cant be stopped once it leaves lift hill.RCS is a decent carnival, they do have a higher accident rate than some, but then again they play the largest fairs in the country and have alot of rides, millions of guests ride those rides each year, and this is the first death of a guest that i can remember.

Arb20
Arb20

Drop outs? Really?? It seems to me, because of your poor use of grammar, that you are not very smart yourself!

It's "our" country not are And "they're" not there !

TheHappyPig
TheHappyPig

My kids rode most of the rides, and eventhough the operators might talk amongst themselves in Spanish they do understand english. We did not encounter one operator who did not understood what we were saying. That was a very racist and ignorant comment that has nothing to do with the accident. This can happen in any country, any language. One thing does not have to do with the other. Also, saying that they are all dropouts is not accurate as well. I had some interaction with one of the operators because I had a complaint, and he was not a dropout. He attended school during the day and operated at night. He was actually a very polite person.

Camille
Camille

Wow our country is where we're at thanks to people like you, the language we speak does not make a difference. Nobody was talking about the employees or what they do for a living or what language they speak. Just save your trip to the rodeo next year because many of us will not enjoy any negative vibe:) Just saying.

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

The ability to speak English does not make the rides safer. Sorry.

grenas(:
grenas(:

Mann Thats Some Shit You Dont Have To Be Racist Its Not Their Fault The Rides Arent Safe!

Guerrajoann
Guerrajoann

Obviously this was just an unfortunate accident. I don't agree with you about high-school dropouts or illegal aliens operating these rides, it has nothing to do with such an unfortunate situation it could have happened to anyone anywhere no matter if u speak English or not. It's people like you that are so close minded.

Jolee
Jolee

Nobodyy is talking about the mans who work there wtf this has to do with the man death

H_e_x
H_e_x

Damn, I've heard of victim blaming but this is crazy. It's not unheard of for people to fall out of roller coasters because the safety measures weren't where they should have been. Accidents happen. At the very least you could explain your idea a little bit instead of firing off an inflammatory non sequitur intended to rile people up.

Jt
Jt

Thats not true cause I rode it and felt it was not safe getting jerked around I would not ride it again ever

CathyMat
CathyMat

It should be POSSIBLE to cause your own demise by falling off a roller coaster.

EzE
EzE

You could at least show some respect for the dead and give him the benefit of the doubt. Read the description of the coaster.

Fatty FatBastard
Fatty FatBastard

One giant run-on sentence, and I suppose your shift key is broken...

Devin
Devin

Seal183 I would like to speak with you in more detail about your rides on the Hi Miler.

Ohbrother
Ohbrother

Huh? Nonsense. What if the operator doesn't understand the word "STOP"? Or cries for help?

Oh Brother
Oh Brother

Actually, it IS unheard of considering this is the first fatality there in over 40 years. A private firm investigated and found 0 malfunction of the ride. What say you now?

Oh Brother
Oh Brother

Rollercoasters aren't for everyone.

Oh Brother
Oh Brother

Alcohol makes people do strange things...

Oh Brother
Oh Brother

What would you like for me to do, have a small candlelight vigil?

camille
camille

The point here is that the language would not have made the rides safer. Just saying. & i was replying to the other guy. I completely agree with you. Nothing shows that the rides were dangered. But we do not know what exactly happened so until then we will all have our doubts and questions.

Oh Brother
Oh Brother

So you are claiming there is not way for the operator to stop the ride at all? Frankly, I find that hard to believe. Are you claiming there is only one power-assisted ascent at the beginning of the ride that propels the entire coaster thru the entire course? Please elaborate, thanks.

KingoftheEStop
KingoftheEStop

Once the train clears the lift you can scream "STOP" in any language you want, but until that train hits a safety brake or the final brake run, the operator is helpless to stop it. Its not like a flat based ride where you can smack down on the E-Stop and get an instantaneous response from the ride, for roller coasters, you just have to let gravity do its thing. I don't think in this case pressing the E-Stop or Power Disconnect would have likely saved this mans life. It's up to the lawyers and litigants now to lay the blame, and a judge and jury to decide the ultimate victor.

Oh Brother
Oh Brother

The whole World knows what stop means? Are you sure? You should really think before you type.

Camille
Camille

Ummm i think the whole wrlds understands what the word STOP means, and i think the whole world knows when a person in CRYING. You are just something else.

Oh Brother
Oh Brother

HPD is also investigating. Are they neutral enough for you?

H_e_x
H_e_x

I was talking about roller coasters around the world. Should have made that clear.And how do you know they conducted an unbiased investigation? They paid the investigators. That doesn't sound like a neutral party.

Oh Brother
Oh Brother

Someone has to pay for the investigation.

Jeff
Jeff

Just for the record, the independent company is a risk management firm that works for the ride operator. Also, HPD is looking into this as well. More to come later today.

Oh Brother
Oh Brother

Did you read that on a bathroom wall somewhere, Einstein? What a clown.

Billhumphrey
Billhumphrey

your a jack ass. karma is a bitch and you just earned a karmic ass whooping. Maybe next time your getting a blow job some one will kick your mom in the chin.

Obersant
Obersant

Yeah, it could have also been one of the reasons why " the operator of the Hi-Miler roller coaster was not looking at the roller coaster when Brian Greenhouse fell 28 feet to his death."

Wyatt
Wyatt

Yeah, you're right. There's no distinction between standard internet bitchiness, and bitchiness on a local news site when there's a death involved. Even in that sort of situation, you have absolutely no reason to behave with any sense of decorum whatsoever. Enjoy your free pass.

Oh Brother
Oh Brother

Surely you know by now this isn't the sympathy board, right? F off.

Wyatt
Wyatt

Also, he was drunk. Also, let's joke about holding a candlelight vigil for him. You know his family might read that shit, right?

Yeah, you're real classy.

Oh Brother
Oh Brother

You're absolutely right. No one knows the full story. I happen to think, since he was the only one that was tossed out the entire time the carnival was here, it's likely he did something he wasn't supposed to do, which ended badly for him.

And you shouldn't be chastising anyone for acting like an "ass", ass.

Now back to your board monitoring. Have they given you a little shiny junior moderators badge yet?

Wyatt
Wyatt

She says it shouldn't be possible to cause your own death on a ride. Alcohol gives people the power to do the impossible? I guess that would be strange.

You don't know the full story - likely that no one here does - so why be an ass?

Josyloredo
Josyloredo

On this ride the security locks come undone, it happened to me!

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