State investigating 2 hurt on historic Pa. coaster

CONNEAUT LAKE, Pa. (AP) — The state Department of Agriculture is investigating a report that two people suffered injuries on a historic roller coaster in northwestern Pennsylvania.

The incident happened Saturday night on the 75-year-old Blue Streak, a wooden coaster at Conneaut Lake Park, which is about 90 miles north of Pittsburgh.

Emergency crews told the Erie Times-News (http://bit.ly/17VAZr9 ), which first reported the incident Tuesday, that one woman was taken to Meadville Medical Center with facial injuries, while a second woman was taken to the same hospital in a private vehicle. The names of the victims have not been released, and their conditions or precise injuries could not be confirmed Tuesday.

Agriculture press secretary Samantha Krepps confirmed Tuesday that the department “is looking into it and we know two people were hurt.” Krepps said she couldn’t say at this point who reported the incident to the department, which oversees amusement ride inspections and enforces ride safety laws.

The financially troubled 121-year-old park is run by a public board of trustees, which leases its rides — including the coaster — to family-owned Adams Amusements LLC.

Lenny Adams, an official with the company, said he understands the riders may have lowered their heads because it was raining, then were hit by a lap bar when the ride hit a bump in the track. The ride was closed after the incident, but has reopened because crews determined there were no mechanical problems with the ride, Adams told the newspaper.

The coaster was built in 1938 and is famous for being one of two remaining coasters in the world by renowned coaster designer Ed Vettel. The coaster is the park’s primary attraction and remains open as part of “Ghost Lake at Conneaut Lake Park,” a Halloween-themed event on weekends.

Saturday’s injuries marked the second safety incident involving the coaster in as many weeks.

The coaster’s car got stuck at the top of a hill Oct. 19, when a safety brake malfunctioned. Emergency crews led 20 riders down a narrow catwalk in wet weather.

Nobody was hurt, and crews put a safety harness on each rider and led them down the 50-foot catwalk one at a time, a process that took more than three hours. The roller coaster was inspected and repaired after that incident.

The coaster was idled in 2006 due to maintenance and other concerns, but park officials used $50,000 from the Pepsi Refresh Project in 2010 to refurbish the ride. The contest allowed people to vote online for worthy arts and culture projects that needed a financial boost.

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Information from: Erie Times-News, http://www.goerie.com

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