Thrill seekers who rode El Toro at Six Flags Great Adventure have flooded social media with their own horror stories after learning that five people were hospitalized.
And insiders who say they work at Six Flags have sounded the alarm about the turnover of workers inspecting rides at all Six Flags, including the park in Jackson, NJ, as La Poste reports.
Several riders complained of back pain and five were taken to hospital after riding the 19-story wooden roller coaster on Thursday night.
El Toro riders said the ride shook so much they chipped their teeth and bit their tongues.
After the news broke, a parent described the coaster as “the hardest ride I’ve ever had” in a Reddit post about a July 18 visit, adding that “my 10-year-old son was sick for hours because of it”.
Another parent wrote on Reddit: “The last 2 times my son rode it – last week and last month – he came home the next day and complained of pulled back muscles.”
“I rode last week for the first time in a few years – my child and I went off to see stars. Too bad because it was always intense, but never painful. Needs special attention,” wrote a third parent on the social media site.
After the El Toro incident, a Reddit user who claimed to work in the maintenance department wrote that the company was “going through a crazy staff shortage”, adding that “many team members working [at El Toro] have been trained recently or don’t make the trip very often, so they don’t [really] don’t know more about the ride than how to operate it and what to do during troubleshooting procedures.
Other insiders on Reddit said the Arlington, Texas-based company has struggled to hire and retain veteran technicians who inspect and maintain equipment, such as La Poste reports.
“It has become increasingly difficult to hire skilled labor to maintain our infrastructure and rides,” wrote a Reddit user who claims to be a Six Flags employee earlier this month. “We’re just hiring agencies at this point to fill the positions, and that’s not good. Safety is going to suffer.”
Six Flags did not respond to requests for comment on the ride or accusations of understaffing.
Last year, El Toro partially derailed when the rear wheels of the rear car were jacked up on the track. Six Flags was fined $5,000 for failing to notify the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs by telephone immediately after the incident, according to a NJ.com Report.
The ride reopened in April but will remain closed now as the state investigates the latest incident.
“All necessary maintenance and repairs will be performed and the ride will be re-inspected by our engineers, maintenance professionals, third-party independent safety inspectors and the State of New Jersey prior to reopening,” said a spokesperson for Six Flags. Asbury Park Press Friday.
The incident is just the latest setback for the company, whose new chief executive Selim Bassoul sparked controversy in an earnings call this month when he said the parks had become “inexpensive nurseries for teenagers.”
Bassoul increased prices in the 27 parks, which angry longtime season pass bearers who say nothing has improved in the parks to merit such hikes. The company also revealed that it had lost nearly 2 million customers this year, largely due to rising prices.
Bassoul says he wants to raise the quality of the clientele that frequents the parks and discourage rowdy teenagers from going there.
Shares of the company were down more than 7% on Friday afternoon.