Riders plunge 34 feet, 6 injured in roller coaster incident

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A roller coaster that derailed in Florida had been put out of service by state inspectors twice in the past year and a half because of problems with the ride.

Two riders fell 34 feet when their car derailed Thursday night and was left dangling from the track. Firefighters used ladders to pull eight others to safety high above the Daytona Beach Boardwalk.

“The front car which was holding four passengers completely came off the tracks,” said Daytona Beach Fire spokeswoman Sasha Staton. The two riders who fell from the Sand Blaster ride suffered traumatic injuries, she said.

Of nine passengers taken to the hospital, all but two were discharged by Friday afternoon.

A month before the derailment, a state inspector had found problems with the ride, and the roller coaster was ordered to be taken out of service. State inspection reports released to The Associated Press on Friday show that an inspector last month found excessive corrosion, a damaged seat, and a crack in the track. Those problems, though, were corrected by the time of a follow-up inspection Thursday, according to the reports.

“Deficiencies corrected,” the inspector noted in the “comments” section of the report.

“Department inspectors conducted a thorough inspection of the ride, and it was found in compliance with state law,” according to a statement Friday from Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services spokeswoman Jennifer Meale. “Anyone who should be held accountable will be held accountable.”

A “stop order” also was issued for the ride in February 2017 because of corrosion and damaged handrails. The stop order continued through two following inspections. In May 2017, an inspector found damaged nuts and bolts. The next month, a seat was found damaged.

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