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The world's second-tallest rollercoaster has been shut down permanently following an incident last year when a woman was critically injured after being hit by a flying metal bracket from the ride.
Rachel Hawes, 45, from Michigan, was rushed to hospital as she fought for her life after the L-shaped bracket smacked her in the head during a visit to Cedar Point amusement park in the Ohio city of Sandusky during August 2021.
The object came loose from one of the carriages on the 420-foot high Top Thrill Dragster rollercoaster with Cedar Point confirming on Facebook that the ride, which has been shut since the incident, would not be reopening.
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A statement read: "After 19 seasons in operation with 18 million riders experiencing the world's first strata coaster, Top Thrill Dragster, as you know it, is being retired.
"However, Cedar Point's legacy of ride innovation continues. Our team is hard at work, creating a new and reimagined ride experience."
A strata coaster is the phrase used to describe any complete-circuit rollercoaster with a height between 400 and 499 feet.
The Dragster, which accelerated from zero to 120mph in less than four seconds, was opened in 2003 and was followed two years later by the only other strata coaster in the world – the Kingda Ka rollercoaster at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson Township, New Jersey, which boasts a 456-foot elevation.
It is not known whether Hawes has recovered from her injuries and Cedar Point have decided to take the ride out of service forever despite a 620-page report by the Ohio Department of Agriculture concluding that the rollercoaster was safe and there had been no wrong-doing on the part of the park.
In video footage, taken after Hawes had been struck by the object, her shrieks of pain can be heard as she receives medical treatment to her bleeding head while laid on the ground.
John McDermott, 27, was queuing for the ride at the time and told Cleveland.com: "I saw the thing hit the crowd. The lady fell and I heard it bounce off the concrete.
"It was something metal. It wasn't a small object.
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"It was pretty big – bigger than the palm of my hand. It looked like a metal disc flying through the air."
The Department of Agriculture's report included a photo of the bracket, which appears to measure about three inches long and two inches wide, while being made of solid steal.
Cedar Point said it had become disengaged from a carriage on the end of its run.
In Ohio, the law states that rollercoasters must be inspected once a year and the Dragster was last examined four months before the incident.
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- Theme Parks
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