Another alpine coaster is temporarily closed due to a possible injury over the weekend.
Empty lines and silence fill the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster. It’s a rare scene for the attraction that draws in tens of thousands of visitors each year.
"It’s frustrating, people are longing to do the coaster rides,” said owner, Jessica Seitz.
The ride has been temporarily closed since a weekend incident injured a female rider. Crews took the rider to the hospital for a possible back injury, but was released shortly thereafter.
Jessica Seitz, and her husband Josef Gombert opened the attraction back in 2013, they say it was a male rider who ignored the rules that caused a chain reaction, resulting in the collision.
"We always give instructions, we have a recording, we give individual instructions, however one customer did not follow our rules,” explained Setiz.
Alpine coasters differ from roller coasters, while the carts are attached to a track and can only go up to a certain speed, the rider is able to control the brakes whenever they need to slow down. They are never supposed to stop in the middle of the ride.
"It’s a self-operated coaster basically, so the customers can control their own sled,” said Setiz.
During the attraction’s Saturday night ride, employees noticed a male rider constantly stopping. They reached out to make sure he was okay.
"There’s another operator on top of the mountain that told this person you need to push your handles forward to make it go, in order to go and it seemed like he understood,” said Seitz.
However, owner’s say, the excessive braking continued. The ride’s assistant manager next approached the man.
"Told him again you need to push your handles forward, but he did not follow our rules,” said Seitz.
Over time, the male rider’s constant stopping created a line of riders up the track, causing two carts further back to bump.
Under state law, amusement rides must close immediately after any injury, and then must report the accident to the proper state department.
"We decided to have the track inspected as soon as possible,” said Seitz.
A third party inspector visited Monday and deemed the ride fine to reopen. However, the attraction will remained closed until the state gives final approval.
The mile-long coaster takes riders up 60 feet. Safety information is repeated the moment a person decides to ride, and multiple signs lines the length of the track, reinforcing those rules.
"We never negotiate safety, it's always our first priority,” said Setiz. “And we want everybody to enjoy the ride as safe as possible.”
Seitz and Gombert hope to open the doors soon, August 3rd will mark their 3rd anniversary in Pigeon Forge.
"We love to see our customers enjoy the ride, and scream and laugh and have fun," said Seitz.
This is the 3rd time a coaster in Sevier County has been temporarily shut down, all incidents have happened at 3 separate establishments.
On July 3, the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster was shut down after a passenger was thrown from the ride. She suffered fractures to both wrists, a knee cap, head trauma, and possible broken ribs. Investigators said the woman was likely not properly buckled in. After inspections and further training for employees, the state allowed the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster to reopen ten days later.
That same day, a rider on The Coaster at Goats on the Roof in Pigeon Forge suffered a broken arm after they seemed to "have lost control and put an arm outside of the ride," according to the accident report submitted by the company's owner. The accident wasn't reported immediately.