LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California safety inspectors on Friday said they have closed Disneyland’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride for at least two weeks to investigate a Thursday evening accident, the roller coaster’s third in less than a year.
Three passengers were injured and sent to the hospital after two trains on the Western train-style ride collided in the loading area Thursday evening, said Dean Fryer, a spokesman for the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health.
Walt Disney Co., which owns the Southern California theme park, said it was working with investigators.
Big Thunder partially derailed last September, killing one passenger, after a wheel which held the train on the tracks fell off in a mechanical failure.
In April, two trains without passengers slammed into each other, an accident blamed on operator error.
“What makes this one stand out more is the close proximity of the incidents. There have been three now, two involving patrons, in the course of a year’s time. But our findings of the last two are totally unrelated to each other and we’ve yet to figure out what was the cause of the current incident,” Fryer said.
“It could take several weeks, several months,” to investigate, he said, adding that if the matter were resolved quickly it could still take a couple of weeks.
Disney spokesman Bob Tucker in a statement confirmed that the ride was closed. “The safety of our guests and cast members is our highest priority,” he said. Disney refers to Disneyland employees as “cast members.”
The accident involved “two trains bumping into each other,” he said, declining to give further details.
The three injured passengers, who complained of neck and back pains, were a family of Canadians, including a 44-year-old woman, a 42-year-old man and a 10-year old boy, Anaheim Fire Department spokeswoman Maria Sabol said.
Fryer said they were released from the hospital on Thursday evening.