12/19/2022 UPDATE: OSHA fines Silver Dollar City over $14,000 after park employee death.
BRANSON, Mo. — Silver Dollar City remains open to guests as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigates the death of a park employee last week.
KOLR 10 Investigates why the incident was mostly handled internally when taxpayers in Southwest Missouri fund life-saving emergency services through police and fire departments. With more than 2 million visitors reported at Silver Dollar City in recent years, the issue of public safety falls in the hands of a private business.
OSHA confirms a worker suffered blunt force trauma to the head – allegedly sustained during roller coaster maintenance and testing on July 20 and died the following day.
While having first aid on amusement park properties is fairly common practice in the US, it’s proving to be a barrier in accessing critical public safety information following an emergency. Silver Dollar City tells KOLR 10 Investigates it will not provide any details on the employee emergency to honor the victim’s family’s wishes.
“The information should be available because if it’s not, it seems like there’s some secret going on internally,” said Branson visitor Taryn Spurlock.
The Valadez family was also visiting Branson the week after the park employee’s death.
“I do like the fact that they do have their own EMT service to respond with more immediate intervention in case something were to happen,” said Kristy Valadez. “However, in the case of an investigation if something does go wrong, I do think there should be transparency.”
Meanwhile, the OSHA investigation could take up to six months.
“I think that’s a concern; I think people should know,” said Gilbert Valadez. “At least shut that ride down if anything else until they figure out what’s going on with it.”
Southern Stone County Fire Protection District responded to Silver Dollar City on the day of the incident to create a landing zone for an emergency helicopter. However, emergency responders in Stone County, Taney County, and Branson tell KOLR 10 Investigates they did not treat the employee for his wounds.
The Missouri Division of Fire Safety’s website says its amusement ride unit conducts both routine yearly inspections and spot inspections. KOLR 10 Investigates has requested access to inspection records and will report on the findings.