Last Sunday at around midday, 34-year-old Fumiaki Kuranouchi and his friend went to a Monster Hunter "stamp rally" in Tokyo. Before leaving, they rode a roller coaster called the "Spinning Coaster Maihime". Sadly, the ride cost Kuranouchi his life.
The tragedy took place on Sunday, January 30, which incidentally was the last day of a promotional "stamp rally" for Monster Hunter at Tokyo Dome City, where the roller coaster is located. Besides Monster Hunter stamps, there was also a shop with food and goodies inspired by the popular PSP games.
According to The Mainichi Daily News, the attraction Kuranouchi rode seats four passengers (two back-to-back) and takes tight turns as it spins through a 1,000 foot-long track, reaching speeds of 22mph. The embedded video shows the attraction in action.
"We were worried that we might not be allowed to ride the roller coaster as both of us are big," Kuranouchi's friend, who was riding next to the victim, told investigators. Kuranouchi's friend reportedly said that they were thinking of only getting their Monster Hunter stamps and going home if they could not ride the Spinning Coaster Maihime due to their size. Both were, however, allowed on the ride.
Kuranouchi's friend reportedly said that they were thinking of only getting their Monster Hunter stamps and going home if they could not ride the Spinning Coaster Maihime due to their size.
Six-feet-tall and weighing in at over 285 pounds, Kuranouchi was a large man, and there are unconfirmed claims in the Japanese media that the safety bar could not close due to his size. The part-time worker manning the ride apparently told police that she didn't do a hand-check for Kuarnouchi's safety bar, because it "appeared to be locked as it was positioned right on his stomach."
Soon after the ride began, Kuranouchi was thrown from the coaster, falling over twenty feet to the concrete below. He died two hours later at the hospital.
The police have since raided the offices of the theme park and the company responsible for importing the machine, on the suspicion of professional negligence leading to death, reports Kyodo News. Sources say that the park's training manual does not clearly depict how to confirm that the safety bars are locked in place. The park, however, stated that it "verbally" tells staff to check with their hands to see if the safety bar is in place.
This isn't the first tragedy Japanese theme parks have suffered. In 2007, the six-car Fujin Raijin II attraction at Osaka's Expoland derailed, killing a 19-year-old female who hit her head on the guardrail. Nineteen other passengers were also injured. The theme park, which was built for the 1970s World Expo in Osaka, closed temporarily, but later reopened. It finally closed for good in 2009. Police later determined that the cause of the accident was a cracked axle. The attraction's axle hadn't been replaced for 15 years.
The Nikkei, Japan's equivalent to the Wall Street Journal, is reporting that this incident could hurt the earnings of Tokyo Dome City. Good.
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