CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Cleveland 19 has followed up with Cedar Point after Reporter Dan DeRoos's exclusive story on pictures posted on Facebook that claim to show damage to a break system on the Top Thrill Dragster. Cedar Point was asked for a comment to our story that exposed the possible problem and whether or not the ride is back open. In an emailed statement the only response from a spokesperson was:
Cleveland 19 Reporter Dan DeRoos contacted the owners of the Facebook page and was told they were given these pics by someone who claims to be a ride operator at Cedar Point.
They claim the pics show one of the brake systems for Top Thrill Dragster shredded, bent and melted.
We wanted to know if they were legitimate.
DeRoos has been in contact with staff at Cedar Point, since Monday, more than six times.
We asked did it happen, when did it happen, and were there people on the ride at the time?
Cedar Point declined to answer those questions but their spokesperson told DeRoos, "We do not have any information about the pictures" and that the "the ride is down for maintenance" in an email.
Marc Spaulding is a roller coaster expert who's worked in the amusement park business for 17 years including three at Cedar Point, as a ride operator for Top Thrill Dragster. He's also part of the website WildGravity Travels.
Based on his experience he said the pics are pieces of the catch car brake system and he explained what they do.
Think of the car the riders sit in as a train. That train needs a sort of catapult for the launch, they call that a catch car. When the catapult pulls and releases the train it also needs breaks to be able to stop and go back to get the next train.
Spaudling said something must have happened to bend and melt the brakes. When DeRoos asked Spaulding what would have happened if the train didn't make it over the hill, which does happen from time to time, and came back down over the mangled brakes?
"Wow, that just gave me chills hearing you ask that," Spaulding said.
"This is an incident that could have been bad. It wasn't bad. Are they lucky, sure," he said. "You know, you never know what could have happened if that train hadn't had cleared the tower."
The next part of the investigation was to check with the state. Did the Department of Agriculture, that oversees all of the state's rides and parks, receive any report of an incident from Cedar Point in 2017? The answer is no.
Cedar Point only has to get the state involved for what's called a "reportable incident" which is defined in the Ohio revised code as "an occurrence during the operation of an amusement ride that results in death or injury requiring immediate hospital admission."
So even though Spaulding said there was potential for an injury accident, Cedar Point is not required to bring in state inspectors to answer what happened, why it happened, and if it could it happen again.
"They had an incident," Spaulding said. "However, it's not classified as an incident because the ride did run as it was it was supposed to so they are lucky."
By email a Cedar Point spokesman said, "Top Thrill Dragster operated properly and as designed. It is currently down for maintenance and we expect it will be open soon to guests. We cannot verify the validity of the photos."
"I 100 percent trust the State of Ohio, Cedar Points maintenance, I worked with those guys for three years and I don't question anything that they do," said Spaulding. "I would have my kids on the ride next week if it was open."
The only time this situation would be looked at by the state is when they review maintenance logs next year. They will see a repair was done in the logs and inspectors will check out the work next year.