Girl’s seat belt failed in middle of roller coaster ride at Penn. theme park, her family says

WEST MIFFLIN, Penn. (WPXI/CNN) - A fun day at a Pennsylvania amusement park turned into a terrifying experience for one family when a young girl’s seat belt unlatched in the middle of a roller coaster ride.

The ride camera on the Phantom's Revenge roller coaster at Kennywood captured a photo of the girl's seat belt unlatched and flapping in the wind. (Source: Dave Feehan/WPXI/Cox/CNN)

Father Dave Feehan says his daughter and her mother were riding the Phantom’s Revenge roller coaster at Kennywood when the girl’s seat belt came unlatched, flapping in the wind.

Even Feehan didn’t believe the story at first, but the ride’s camera captured the moment.

“I said, ‘Are you sure it just wasn’t loose?’ Then, she sent me the picture the Kennywood cameras actually took,” Feehan said. “You can clearly see there was some shock and awe in their faces.”

When the ride came to a stop, the family flagged down the operator, who reassured them everything was OK.

A Kennywood spokesperson says the ride was inspected and given the green light. They also reviewed surveillance video and confirmed the operator checked that both the girl’s lap restraint and seat belt were fastened.

"The rider has the ability to unlock it [the seat belt], even potentially inadvertently,” said Jeffrey Savelisky, executive director of maintenance for Palace Entertainment, which owns Kennywood.

Savelisky says there are three safety layers on Phantom’s Revenge, and they’re tested thousands of times.

"If, at any point, one doesn’t work, the second is still holding it,” he said. “It’s an extremely robust system and not one that we have any concerns about at all.”

In addition, Kennywood says seat belts aren’t required on that particular ride but are only there for added visitor comfort.

Feehan, who is the public safety director in Monessen, Penn., says the incident was personal, and he’s speaking out because he wouldn’t be able to live with himself if someone ended up hurt.

"Sometimes you have to skyline things, especially if it scares you, and it scared the hell out of me,” he said.

The family says the experience won’t keep them from the amusement park, but they will be more cautious about safety procedures.

Copyright 2019 WPXI, Cox, Dave Feehan via CNN. All rights reserved.

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