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Roller coaster expert says tougher regulations needed

Posted at 7:38 PM, Jul 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-23 07:06:59-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- One of the original designers of the Texas Giant, a popular roller coaster at the Arlington Six Flags, played a role in engineering Kings Dominion when it was originally built.

The Texas Giant has come under fire after a woman was thrown from the ride and killed over the weekend.

Curtis Summers originally designed the Texas Giant and was a structural engineer at Kings Dominion, playing a role in several of the parks oldest rides.

Ken Martin is a roller coaster inspection expert based in Richmond. He says accidents like this are reasons why states like Virginia need tougher regulations.

"I think we need to have dedicated, full time inspectors in Virginia," Martin said.

Presently, in Virginia, the role of inspecting rides falls on the county or city building inspector.

Martin says those individuals are busy with other things and cannot always devote the proper resources inspections deserve.

But Hanover County Chief Building inspector Richard Bartell disagrees. Since Kings Dominion is in Hanover - inspection falls on his office.

He says his staff is more than equipped to handle the inspections, adding they have five qualified inspectors on staff.

"We have a lot of experienced inspectors who do know what they are looking at we take it very seriously," Bartell said.

Martin says regardless riders need to be more responsible as well, believing that parks don't enforce maximum restrictions as much as they enforce minimum restrictions.

"Just remember you're the last inspector when you get on that ride," Martin said.

"Sometimes having arms and legs that are too long are just as much of a problem as people who weigh a little too much," Martin said.

Kings Dominion declined to comment on this story or the Texas accident.