Man dies on ride at Disney World in Florida; possibly had prior conditions

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Expedition Everest.
Image: Michael Lowin.

A man has died after riding the Expedition Everest roller coaster at Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida.

The man, identified as Jeffery Reed, 44 from Navarre, was given CPR after being pulled off the ride unconscious, and was taken in an ambulance to Celebration Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Reed had no external signs of injuries, and police are investigating to determine whether or not Reed may have had any pre-existing medical conditions. An autopsy is to be performed on the body, but details have not yet been released.

Reed was believed to have been conscious at least 50 seconds before the ride ended, when a camera took a picture of him. Cameras are sometimes placed on roller coasters so that riders can buy a photo of themselves as they go down a hill.

It is reported that the ride, which opened in 2006, was functioning properly at the time of the incident, but has been closed until further notice.

The Walt Disney World website for the ride says "WARNING! For safety, you should be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, motion sickness, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure. Expectant mothers should not ride."

Since 1989, 15 people have died while riding on rides at the park; many who have died on park rides have had prior aliments.

A four-year-old who died on the Body Wars ride in 1995 had a cardiac conduction defect, which is a congenital heart condition; the mother insisted the girl had no history of health problems, but relatives told officials that the girl was being treated at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston for undisclosed reasons.

Autopsy of a boy who died on Rock 'n' Roller Coaster in 2006 found he too had a congenital heart problem. In 2006, a 49-year-old German tourist died in a hospital after she fell ill on the Mission: Space ride, from bleeding brain caused by high blood pressure, not provoked by the ride.