Amputee veteran kept off amusement park ride

An Army veteran who lost both legs in Iraq was upset after being prohibited from using some of the t

An Army veteran who lost both legs in Iraq was upset after being prohibited from using some of the thrill rides at the Six Flags Great Escape amusement park last weekend.

Marissa Strock says she was allowed on five rides during a family outing to the park Saturday, only to be denied permission to ride a sixth. She said she was told she shouldn’t have been allowed on any of the rides, due to safety concerns because she uses prosthetic legs.

Six Flags Great Escape officials said they are reviewing its policies to be sure they are applied consistently.

Strock called the regulations that kept her off the rides overly restrictive, saying she’d been allowed on all the rides at the park in previous years.

“I want for them to realize that there are many different types and levels of amputations and their regulations are overly protective,” Strock wrote on her Facebook page.

She and the three adults and two children who were in the party have been promised full refunds of their park admission, Strock said on Facebook.

Strock could not be reached Wednesday for further comment.

Six Flags Great Escape issued a statement saying it is a longtime supporter of “military heroes” and that it has apologized to Strock.

“To ensure their safety and well-being, guests with certain disabilities are prohibited from riding certain rides and attractions,” the statement said. “Our Safety & Accessibility Guide includes ride manufacturers’ guidelines and the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The guide is customized by ride and developed for the safety and well-being of all our guests.”

The guide states that most if not all rides require riders to have one functioning arm and one functioning leg and specifies that prosthetic devices aren’t considered functioning limbs.

“We apologize to Ms. Strock for the inconsistent enforcement of our policy and any embarrassment we caused her,” the statement continued. “We have immediately initiated a review of all of our ride operations to ensure consistent implementation of our policies.”

Strock’s experience has generated lively discussion on Facebook, with some people pointing out the need to maintain ride safety while others criticized the park’s treatment of a veteran.

In 2011, a former U.S. Army sergeant who was a double leg amputee died when thrown from a roller coaster at Darien Lake Amusement Park near Buffalo. The park was cited by the state Department of Labor for not properly training workers. An out-of-court legal settlement with the veteran’s family was reached in 2013, according to published reports.

Strock said the soldier killed in that incident had amputations much higher on the legs than her own, which are below the knee.

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions recommends its members, including Six Flags Great Escape, follow safety standards set independently by ASTM International, said Colleen Mangone, the association’s spokeswoman.

Strock, who is originally from Rensselaer County and was in the area visiting family last weekend, lost her lower legs in a roadside bombing in Iraq that killed two other soldiers Nov. 24, 2005. She was 21.

She has since become an advocate for disabled veterans, participating in the Wounded Warrior Project and appearing on the cover of Newsweek magazine in 2007.

Categories: Schenectady County

Leave a Reply