Valleyfair Ride Operator Sues Manufacturer of Power Tower after Injuries

The Power Tower ride at Valleyfair Photo: Photo from lawsuit
The Power Tower ride at Valleyfair

July 21, 2017 12:03 AM

A Minneapolis ride operator is suing the maker of the Power Tower at Valleyfair, alleging he was injured when it malfunctioned while he performed maintenance on the ride.

Attorneys for 41-year-old Erik Bedaux filed the suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court against Utah-based S&S Worldwide, which designed and manufactured the Power Tower ride. 


The suit alleges that on Sept. 20, while Bedaux was performing maintenance, a malfunction led to "the uncontrollable falling of a heavy seat carriage that was fixed to the Power Tower ride."

A spokesperson for S&S Worldwide said because the litigation is ongoing, they company is unable to comment at this time.

Bedaux became trapped under the ride, the suit alleges, and sustained traumatic brain injury, injuries to his lungs, ribcage, shoulder, eyesight and spine. The suit alleges S&S's design of the thrill ride was defective, the company failed to provide reasonable and safe maintenance instructions and procedures, and the company failed to warn Valleyfair the ride was defective.

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It alleges that at no point when the company promoted, sold and eventually installed the ride in 2000 did it disclose potential malfunctions and mechanical design defects.

Attorneys for Bedaux demand a jury trial, unspecified damages and S&S redesign the ride.

According to the lawsuit, the incident occurred as Bedeaux and two others charged with operating the ride that day had set the Power Tower in maintenance mode before charging the hydraulic cylinders in the seats, which the suit says is necessary to keep the safety bar in place throughout the ride.

Per protocol, according to the suit, one operator raised the carriage of the Turbo Drop tower to allow Bedeaux access behind the seat, where Bedeaux then took his position between the tower's metal framework and the loading position of the carriage.

One of the operators then began to lower the seat carriage so Bedeaux could reach, and as it was lowering "Bedeaux was immediately and without warning caught underneath the seat carriage and was pulled down under it as it continued to slowly descend to the ground," the suit states.

The operator tried unsuccessfully to reverse the carriage. The suit says that's because the carriage converts to a "gravity power mode" when it reaches a certain height from the ground determined by a sensor. 

Because of that mode, the suit alleges, the carriage continued to "fall of its own volition, ultimately bringing its entire weight and thousands of pounds onto Mr. Bedeaux's body, crushing him and trapping him beneath the seat carriage."

In addition to his physical injuries, Bedeaux's attorneys say he has suffered severe mental anguish and emotional distress for fear of losing his life. 

Calls to S&S were not immediately returned Thursday.


Michael Oakes

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