The Kings Island amusement park on Sunday, Aug. 9, resumed operation of a roller coaster that the park had voluntarily shut down Saturday following the death of a man who passed away after riding it.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture inspected the Firehawk roller coaster Sunday morning and determined that the ride was operating according to the manufacturer’s specifications, department spokeswoman Kaleigh Frazier said Sunday.
The Agriculture Department, which has authority for amusement park ride safety in Ohio, has opened an investigation as the law requires whenever there is an accident involving a ride, Frazier said. An enforcement officer from the department will join the investigation on Monday, supplementing the examination by the department’s ride safety inspector Sunday, Frazier said.
The Firehawk roller coaster was put back into operation at 12:10 p.m., a little more than two hours after the park’s 10 a.m. opening Sunday, said Don Helbig, a public relations spokesman for Kings Island.
Homer Shields III, 38, from the Toledo area, died after riding the roller coaster on Saturday, said Craig Kline, a Mason police officer. Kline said he had no information about what caused Shields’ death.
Ride operators noticed the man was having trouble breathing at about 3:30 p.m. Saturday just after the roller coaster train completed a run, Helbig said in an initial statement.
“We have no reason to believe the guest’s ride on Firehawk caused his unfortunate passing,” Helbig said.
The victim was pronounced dead at about 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Bethesda North Hospital in suburban Cincinnati, Helbig said.
Bethesda North spokeswoman Betsy Slone confirmed Shields’ death at the hospital, but declined to release any information about the cause of death.
Kings Island, which has its own police department, is located within the city of Mason. Mason police have no plans to investigate unless they receive information that there was anything suspicious involved in the man’s death, Kline said Sunday.
“We don’t know that anything suspicious occurred,” Kline said.