Dixie Landing death investigation closed; cause unknown

Staff Report

The  investigation into the July death of Lindsay Zeno of Lafayette while on an amusement park ride at Dixie Landing in Baton Rouge has been concluded with no exact cause of the accident being determined, State Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning reported.

Lindsay was killed while riding the Extreme Coaster at the popular amusement park located just outside on Ascension Parish on July 11.

“This was a tragic accident and we wanted to take whatever time necessary to be thorough and diligent in investigating the cause of the accident,” Browning said.

On the day of the accident investigators from the Fire Marshal’s office responded to the location and began gathering information with the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office.

The ride in question, the Xtreme Coaster SC 2000, was engineered and manufactured by Mauer Sohne of Germany in 2000 and was sold new to Perfect Park Limited in the United Kingdom. In 2007 Dixie Landing purchased the ride and had it erected at the Baton Rouge park.

As part of the regular inspections process the manufacture of the ride and the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials conducted inspections of the ride on May 14.

Officials from the Fire Marshal’s office documented inspections on June 2, and no problems were found, according to Browning.

In the months since the accident, officials evaluated the entire ride including mechanical, electrical and human behaviors/actions. The inquiry also required extensive research into the car, restraint systems and accompanying human factors.

Officials secured statements from ride operators who specifically recalled checking the lap bar in Lindsay’s seat at two check points before the car was put into service. No problems were noted or observed by employees during that check.  In statements from persons in the area at the time of the accident, no one witnessed or observed Lindsay attempting to adjust or otherwise manipulate the security bar or its locking mechanisms prior to the ride starting, Browning reported.

Each car on the ride seats a maximum of four persons; two seated side by side and back to back. The car spins around as it travels through the ride experience. Lindsay was seated alone with no one riding next to her but there were two persons riding in the seats to her back.

“Obviously we can never know precisely what actions Lindsay may have taken once the car left the loading point because she was killed in the accident,” Browning said. ”That would be important information which would ultimately help us understand what happened.”

Browning enlisted the assistance of David Collins, an amusement ride accident expert from Newberry Park, Calif. to review the findings and evaluate the manufacture’s testing protocols.

Neither Collins nor Fire Marshal investigators could come to a final determination as to how Lindsay fell from the ride while it was in motion, Browning said.

The office must now officially report that the cause of the death is undetermined, he said.

As a precaution the Fire Marshal will require that modifications and actions be taken to bring the ride into compliance with current standards, some actions of which were already underway before the accident by Dixie Landing.

At the time of its manufacture and installation the ride met all standards and specifications. These precautionary measures will have to be performed and appropriate testing conducted before the ride will be allowed for future use and re-permitted by the Office of the State Fire Marshal.