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Shockwave is a stand-up roller coaster at Kings Dominionmarker. Although not the first of its kind upon opening in 1986, closures elsewhere have since rendered it the oldest currently operating stand-up roller coaster in the United States.

History

The site on which Shockwave stands was formerly home to the Galaxie roller coaster, a small steel coaster of the S.B.C. Galaxi model. However, on September 11, 1983, an incident on the coaster resulted in the fatal injury of 13-year-old Daniel Watkins. The incident was used as the primary example of unsafe rides in local press coverage of the concurrent U.S. Senate hearings on amusement ride safety and regulation. Rather than reopen the attraction, Kings Dominion dismantled and sold it, to Myrtle Beach Pavilion where it operated until 2006 as the Galaxi.

To replace the Galaxie, Kings Dominion recruited Japanese manufacturer TOGO to build a compact steel stand-up coaster. Shockwave opened in 1986, and has run continuously since. The station design is noted for the use of an unusual technique; the station floor is not level, instead tilting down toward the front. This eliminates the need to propel dispatched trains onto the track circuit, instead relying on gravity to roll the train out of the station. The tilt of the station is easily seen in photos such as this one.

Though popular around its opening, the attraction is seen by many as a rough, uncomfortable and even painful ride. Despite this, the unique stand-up design and second-oldest-in-operation status have earned it a fanbase and level of popularity at the park which it maintains to this day.

Incidents

Unfortunately the ride has been unable to avoid the association with death that plagued its predecessor. On August 23, 1999, a 20-year-old man failed to follow safety instructions on Shockwave. He deliberately, but for an unknown reason, freed his body from the restraints, and resultingly flew from the train's final turn at speeds of 40mph. He sustained fatal head injury upon contact with a steel catwalk. Shockwave and two nearly-identical rides at other U.S. parks as well as Canada's Wonderland in Canada were immediately closed. The event was originally reported as "an accident [that] resulted in the death of one park visitor," But investigation, bolstered by numerous witness accounts, quickly attributed the event to the victim's disregard of park safety rules. The roller coaster (and the other two TOGO coasters closed as precautions) were re-opened.

Less than one year after the 1999 death, a 13-year-old boy, concerned that he was not properly fastened into his restraints, intentionally slipped out of them as the train was ascending the lift hill. He jumped onto the adjacent maintenance catwalk and escaped serious injury.

Theming

The trains were painted blue with yellow restraints, and the station with natural-toned stain and paint. For the park's 25th anniversary in 2000, the entire ride was painted in non-standard scheme, neon colors. The superstructure and main rail were painted periwinkle, with the running rails alternating patches of aquamarine and orange. The trains were repainted orange, and the station in the same neon colors as the track.

References

  1. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/washingtonpost_historical/access/124720662.html?dids=124720662:124720662&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:AI&date=Aug+4%2C+1984&author=By+Sandra+Sugawara+Washington+Post+Staff+Writer&pub=The+Washington+Post++(1974-Current+file)&edition=&startpage=A1&desc=Few+Rules+Brake+High-Flying+Theme+Park+Rides Washington Post archived article on the Galaxie accident
  2. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/washingtonpost_historical/access/124780302.html?dids=124780302:124780302&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:AI&fmac=&date=Oct+3%2C+1984&author=By+Saundra+Saperstein+Washington+Post+Staff+Writer&desc=House+Passes+Amusement+Ride+Inspection+Bill Washington Post archived article about the Amusement Ride Inspection Bill, mentioning the accident on Galaxie.
  3. http://www.ultimaterollercoaster.com/news/archives/august99/stories/082499_03.html Initial Accident Report following death on Shockwave coaster
  4. http://www.ultimaterollercoaster.com/news/archives/august99/stories/083199_02.shtml The full report following the conclusion of the investigation
  5. http://www.rideaccidents.com/1999.html#sep2 The RideAccidents.com report on the 13-year-old leaving his restraints



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