Woman in ICU with brain injury after metal bracket flies off a roller coaster, hits her in the head

Top Thrill Dragster ODA Accident Investigation
Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 8:29 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2021 at 9:41 AM CDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG/Gray News) – A woman is in critical condition with a brain injury after she was hit with an “L-shaped” piece of metal that disengaged from a roller coaster at Cedar Point, WTVG reports.

Rachel Hawes, 44, was waiting in line for the Top Thrill Dragster when the metal piece hit her in the back of the head.

According to officials with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the bracket was about the size of an adult male’s hand.

ODA said an inspection showed half of the bolts holding the metal plate in place were missing, but it’s unclear what may have caused it to come off from the track.

“It honestly looked like a giant Jenga block,” said Ryan Leppo, who was also standing in line for the roller coaster when he saw the object fly through the air from the ride.

Sandusky Police bodycam video shared with WTVG shows some of the chaotic moments after Hawes was hit by the metal piece.

In the video, you can hear the Hawes cry for help repeatedly from the ground near the roller coaster.

“Please help me,” she screamed as she was wheeled out of the ride area.

BODY CAM: Watch the chaotic scene at Cedar Point after a woman was hit by a piece of metal that came off the Top Thrill Dragster on Sunday. WARNING: Some viewers may find this video disturbing. Read more >> https://bit.ly/3yQzzC9

Posted by 13abc on Tuesday, August 17, 2021

The ride inspector issued a verbal stop operation order on the Top Thrill Dragster immediately following the incident.

Officials said the last ODA inspection for Top Thrill Dragster was conducted on May 14. However, Cedar Point is in charge of executing “preopening inspections” for every ride on a daily basis.

Cedar Point announced last week the ride will be closed for the rest of the 2021 season. The investigation is ongoing.

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