• Daytona Beach roller coaster was inspected hours before it derailed, injuring riders

    By: Jason Kelly , Kevin Williams , Monique Valdes

    Updated:

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Inspectors with the state Department of Agriculture spent the day trying to figure out what sent a roller coaster off the tracks Thursday night, sending nine people to the hospital.

    Two people fell 34 feet from the Sand Blaster roller coaster Thursday evening at the Daytona Beach Boardwalk after a car came off the tracks, officials said.

    The ride derailed hours after clearing an inspection, according to Florida Department of Agriculture officials.

    Firefighters said they had to work as fast as they could to remove two riders from a dangling coaster car, which derailed at about 8:30 p.m.

    Photos: Daytona Beach Boardwalk roller coaster derailment

    A total of 10 people were rescued, officials said.

    A Daytona Beach police report said the car in the front slid off the tracks and was hanging on the side of the ride, while the car in the middle was off the tracks and the last car was stationary on the tracks.

    Firefighters said two people in the front car had fallen about 35 feet to the ground and two others were still inside the same car as it was dangling.

    Rescuers said the second car had partially derailed with four people inside.

    The third car, which was the one that remained on the tracks, had two riders inside.

    It's still unclear whether each rider was an adult.

    Halifax Health Medical Center said it received nine patients from the roller coaster derailment, but the hospital did not provide an update on their conditions.

    Police said due to the chaos of the scene and people being immediately transported to the hospital, not all riders were immediately identified.

    Police later received a list of the victims.

    At least four of the riders were visiting from the United Kingdom.

    According to the police report, a man called police after the incident to say he had seen maintenance workers working on the tracks earlier in the day.

    Friday morning, the derailed car was still dangling off the side of the track.

    Volusia County 911 was flooded with calls when the train derailed Thursday evening.

    "I just saw it fall off," a witness told Eyewitness News. "I just thought it was part of the ride, because we were kind of far away. And then we heard a big bang and people screaming like they were hurt."

    "It was barely hanging on by a thread," the witness said. "It looked like it could have snapped off at any point. It looked like plastic was literally holding it."

    Northbound lanes of North Ocean Avenue were closed while firefighters removed people from the ride.

    Read: 3 found injured at New Smyrna Beach park after reports of lightning strike

    The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services released a statement Friday saying the ride had been inspected Thursday.

    The statement said, “First and foremost, we’re concerned about the individuals who were injured last night. Their well-being and recovery is of the utmost importance. Just yesterday, department inspectors conducted a thorough inspection of the ride, and it was found in compliance with state law. We have launched an investigation to determine the cause of the accident, and anyone who should be held accountable will be held accountable.”

    Read: Volusia County's county manager to resign amid criticism

    Sand Blaster opened in 2013, but state records show it failed inspection in February 2017 because of excessive corrosion and missing bracing.

    It failed again in May 2017 due to issues with damaged bolts, cracked bracing and electrical problems.

    It did pass its re-inspection the next month.

    The ride failed inspection again last month because of issues with cracked tracks, corrosion and damaged latches.

    It passed re-inspection Friday.


    Watch firefighters rescue riders below:


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