2nd Rider Hurt On Harry Potter Coaster
Updated On: Aug 17 2011 07:08:32 AM EDT
Universal Orlando is making a big change to one of the key attractions at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter after a second incident on the ride in two weeks left another park patron injured.
The injuries happened on the Dragon Challenge dual roller coaster. In both cases, riders say something struck them on a portion of the ride where the two coaster trains come close together at a high rate of speed.
In the latest incident, 19-year-old Jon Wilson, of Ohio, says something struck him in his foot, arm and face on Thursday.
"My sister was sitting next to me at the time, and when I said I was hit she thought it was a bug or something, but then she looked over and I had blood on my hands, so it was obviously something more," Wilson said.
In a major change for the attraction, the two trains of the dual coaster will now be staggered so they do not pass within feet of one another.
"As we continue to study these incidents, we will operate both coasters as separate experiences without their usual intersect points," Universal spokesman Tom Schroder said in a written statement.
Additional signs were also placed at the ride to encourage riders to secure loose belongings in lockers before riding the coaster.
Thursday's incident came just more than two weeks after another rider said he was injured on the same section of the ride. Carlos Montalvo said something struck him as the coaster he was riding passed the other coaster. Montavlo said the injury blinded his right eye. He later lost the eye.
Schroder said Universal Orlando officials believe "the ride itself did not play a role in these incidents."
"The safety of our guests is our highest priority and we are taking this very seriously," Schroder said, noting that more than 50 million people have "safely experienced" the Dragon Challenge, formerly called Dueling Dragons, since it opened.
Schroder said the park would not "speculate on what caused these incidents" but would continue its "long-standing policy of advising guests to safely secure personal items before riding."
Wilson said he's upset that Universal didn't change the ride after the incident that injured Montalvo.
"If this kind of thing is happening more than once in two weeks it could be a problem of some kind and I feel I just want to make sure other people aren't getting hurt on it," he said.
After a brief closure, the coaster was reopened Wednesday afternoon with the changes in place.
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