Before the Six Flags Great Adventure theme park in Jackson Township, New Jersey, closed on Friday night, more than a dozen people were injured when the El Toro roller coaster malfunctioned, according to People. Five of the riders were hospitalized with back, neck, and mouth injuries.
Six Flags initially said 14 riders were treated onsite following the incident, according to the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) as reported by ABC-owned and operated WPVI-TV. The theme park corporation later updated the number to 13 riders instead in a statement Friday. Of the five people hospitalized, two suffered back injuries, two others hurt their mouths and tongues and the fifth injured their neck.
“Several guests reported back pain after riding El Toro this evening,” Gabriel Darretta, a Six Flags spokesperson, told The Asbury Park Press. “Five guests were taken to a local medical facility for evaluation. The ride is closed for inspection.”
The El Toro is one of the tallest roller coasters in the world. It not only climbs nearly 19 stories high but reaches 70 miles per hour while dropping 176 feet in a nauseating 76-degree downward plummet that makes it the steepest wooden coaster in America, according to Six Flags.
“Any maintenance and repairs necessary will be completed and the ride will be re-inspected by our engineers, maintenance professionals, our third-party independent safety inspectors and the state of New Jersey prior to re-opening,” Six Flags told WPVI-TV in a statement.
While a spokesperson for the Jackson Township Police Department told Fox News Digital the injuries were minor “bumps and bruises,” this isn’t the first time El Toro has malfunctioned. The ride reopened this year after partially derailing on June 29, 2021.
The DCA subsequently “red-tagged” the ride at the time and had its operations halted pending an engineering review. The department concluded the rear-up wheel, which prevents the rail-bound cars from lifting, had somehow been dislodged — miraculously sparing a single rider from injuries.
“All necessary modifications have been completed, and El Toro is expected to reopen this spring following extensive testing, inspections by internal and external experts, and state certification by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs,” the amusement park said at the time.
Whether the DCA will fine Six Flags Great Adventure — as it did after last year’s partial derailment — or take more drastic measures remains to be seen.