• Daytona Beach Boardwalk roller coaster was inspected hours before it derailed, injuring riders

    By: Jason Kelly, Kevin Williams, Ty Russell and Monique Valdes, WFTV.com


    Officials said a roller coaster that derailed Thursday evening at the Daytona Beach Boardwalk in Florida was inspected just hours before the incident.

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    Safety inspectors said they will investigate why the Sand Blaster roller coaster derailed, sending some riders plummeting to the ground and leaving others dangling in the air.

    Two people fell 34 feet from the roller coaster Thursday after a car came off the tracks around 8:30 p.m., officials said. 

    Firefighters said they had to work quickly to remove two riders from a dangling coaster car. Ten people were rescued from the ride and six were taken to local hospitals for treatment, officials said.

    >> On WFTV.com: Photos: Daytona Beach Boardwalk roller coaster derailment

    Daytona Beach police said in a report that the first of the roller coaster’s three cars slid off the tracks until it was hanging off the side of the ride. The middle car also went off the tracks while the third remained stationary.

    Officials found at least two people on the ground after the derailment. One of the victims who fell was in the front car, according to a report. 

    The conditions of the injured people were not immediately known. Officials said they were taken to hospitals under a trauma alert status.

    At least four of the riders were visiting from the United Kingdom, authorities said.

    Volusia County officials were flooded with 911 calls when the train derailed.

    A man called authorities after the incident to say he had seen maintenance workers working on the tracks earlier in the day, according to the police report.

    "I just saw it fall off," a witness told WFTV. "I just thought it was part of the ride, because we were kind of far away. And then we heard a big bang and people screaming like they were hurt."

    The derailed car remained dangling off the side of the roller coaster tracks Friday morning.

    "It was barely hanging on by a thread," the witness told WFTV. "It looked like it could have snapped off at any point. It looked like plastic was literally holding it."

    Northbound lanes of North Ocean Avenue were closed while firefighters removed people from the ride.

    The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services released a statement Friday saying the ride had been inspected Thursday.

    “First and foremost, we’re concerned about the individuals who were injured last night. Their well-being and recovery is of the utmost importance,” the statement said. 

    “Just yesterday, department inspectors conducted a thorough inspection of the ride, and it was found in compliance with state law. We have launched an investigation to determine the cause of the accident, and anyone who should be held accountable will be held accountable.”

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