Another Amusement Park Death

June 30, 2007

Gabriela Garin, 21, of White Plains was killed Friday night after fastening some late-arriving riders into their seats on the Mind Scrambler, the same ride where a 7-year-old girl was killed three years ago at the landmark Playland Amusement Park in Rye. The ride was immediately shut down for the rest of the summer.

Garin told the operator she would fasten the last riders into the car, and the new operator, whose name wasn't immediately available, stepped into a booth and started the ride, park spokesmen Peter Tartaglia said.

He looked up, noticed Garin still on the ride and shut it down 15 to 20 seconds after it began, Tartaglia said. But Garin already had been thrown from the ride, he said.

Emergency workers responded, but "there wasn't very much anybody could do for her," said Westchester County Police spokesmen Kieran O'Leary. Garin was pronounced dead at the scene, he said.

The ride and a surrounding section of the amusement park were closed after the accident, but the rest of the park remained open, O'Leary said.

The indoor attraction, which spins riders in a darkened tent with flashing lights, was the scene of another fatal accident on May 22, 2004. Seven-year-old Stephanie Dieudonne wriggled free of the restraining bar on one of the cars, knelt on the seat and fell soon after the ride started, according to investigators.

The amusement park was not cited for any violations or required to make improvements to the ride, but officials announced plans to add seat belts, more lighting and a second attendant at the ride.

Friday's accident marked the fourth fatality in as many years at the county owned Playland, a National Historic Landmark that opened in 1928.

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