Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park removed the Catapult thrill ride from its Dells facility early Friday after a mechanical failure earlier this week led to a close-call with two riders — and attracted national attention after one of the rider’s father posted the incident on Facebook.
The theme park announced Friday morning in a prepared statement that the ride would be removed, and Mt. Olympus general manager Adam Makowski told the Dells Events that the ride “will be gone by next week.”
The giant elastic bands – or “bungee cords” – that propel the two-person ride were removed early Friday, a park employee told the Dells Events at the scene of the ride, where earlier this week one of the giant cords came loose from its mooring and crashed into the pavement within feet of the two riders as they were about to be propelled into the air, in a protective cage, by the ride.
The incident – which left a softball-sized hole in the cement next to the ride — was captured in a video posted on Wednesday by Minnesota native Dru Larson, father of rider Trevor Larson, who was closest to the snapped cord as it hurdled into the ground.
By Facebook’s count, the video had been viewed a half-million times by late Thursday, and that viewage was up to 750,000 by mid-day Friday. The video also was shown and described during the opening news segment of NBC’s “Today” show.
Park director of safety Jason Hammond told the Dells Events at the park Friday that representatives of Mt. Olympus had “spoken to the (Larson) family, and they’re OK.”
Hammond also distributed the park’s prepared statement, which read: “After further review Mt. Olympus has required Casco Inc., the owner/operator of the Catapult ride, to permanently cease operation of the ride and remove the ride from Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park.”
Makowski said that the disassembly of the ride would continue early next week, noting that the towers that flank and anchor the “reverse-bungee” ride are “coming down” on Monday.
The ride, which was closed by the park indefinitely Thursday pending a “full investigation” of the incident, passed a state inspection on June 17, according to a spokesman for Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services.
“It did pass inspection,” Public Information Officer Hannah Zillmer told Dells Events. “It was compliant with all laws and regulations.”
Zillmer said the department’s yearly inspection process of theme park and carnival rides operated in the Wisconsin is thorough.
“We look at a number of things – the machinery itself, we make sure it’s all up to snuff, and we look at the maintenance records to ensure machinery is being maintained properly,” she said. “We also look at training records to be sure all employees are trained in operating the machine as well as in (administering) first aid. We take a look at any of the machinery service logs as well – how well it’s being maintained and its constant maintenance throughout the year, not just the day we’re coming out for inspection.”
Zillmer said the department learned about the incident with the Catapult via both news media reports and the public. She said the department was aware of Mt. Olympus’ plans to remove the ride but that the removal was “not something that was ordered by our department.”
Mt. Olympus owner and operator Nick Laskaris confirmed the ride’s safety inspection Thursday when reached by Dells Events initially about the incident. When asked if he believed all of the park’s rides were safe, the longtime local attraction and hotel operator said, “you’re darn right I do.”