Stories about amusement parks are typically dominated by two topics: either the opening of a new attraction or the catastrophic failure of an old one. This time it was neither, as two crash test dummies designed to ensure a roller coaster was operating safely failed, causing them to be launched through the roof of a nearby hotel.
As reported by NBC’s Philadelphia affiliate, the unfortunate incident happened at the Playland’s Castaway Cove amusement park in Ocean City, New Jersey. In 2016 the park opened a roller coaster called the GaleForce and as part of the ride’s regular maintenance. The coaster was submitted to a two-hour daily test which included operating the coaster with a pair of crash test dummies designed to stand in for human riders. But on April 20, the crash test dummies lived up to their names.
To simulate the weight, form, and rigidity of an actual human rider, the dummies are filled with water before being placed in seats and secured with a lap bar. The exact reason the dummies failed isn’t known, they were trashed after the incident, but during the ride testing that day they leaked water, causing them to lose weight and rigidity, making the lap bar ineffective. As a result, they were accidentally launched into the nearby Ebb Tide Suites hotel next door, where they were still heavy enough to create a pair of holes in the roof.
Brian Hartley, VP of Castaway Cove, assured NBC10 that the coaster was still completely safe and that the replacement crash test dummies will be thoroughly tested for leaks before being sent on future test rides. Explaining why this shouldn’t be a concern when it comes to flesh and blood human beings taking a ride, Hartley said, “You know, you don’t lose rigidity in a person.”