Mindbender Roller Coaster, West Edmonton Mall, Fantasyland indoor amusement park. (Now named Galaxyland.) News reports from the original tragedy, and an update with the survivor 20 years later in 2006.
On the evening of June 14, 1986, after the yellow train (train #1) completed the second inverted loop, it encountered one of three areas of uplift before the third and final loop. Missing bolts on the left inside wheel assembly of the last car of the four car train caused the bogey assembly to disengage the track with a full load of riders. This caused the final car to fishtail wildly, disengaging the lap bars as it collided with support structures, thereby throwing off passengers and losing speed. The train entered the third and final inverted loop, but did not have the speed to complete the loop. The train stalled at the top, then slid backwards, crashing into a concrete pillar. Three people, David Sager, 24, Tony Mandrusiak, 24, and Cindy Simms, 21, were killed during the accident and a fourth man was severely injured and nearly killed.
At the time of the accident the park was packed with people who were attending a concert. The ride had shut down twice, as the operator had heard a metallic noise from the train prior to the accident. Despite running the trains empty, the source of the problem could not be located by the maintenance staff, and the regular operation of the ride resumed until the accident occurred. With the stage located atop the jumping fountains, many had a horrific view as the band played and the coaster derailed. The Mindbender was immediately closed. An investigation and inquiry was launched that revealed that there were problems in the translation from German to English of operational and maintenance information from Schwarzkopf, the German coaster manufacturer. Additional issues with quality control were found as a result of the manufacturer going bankrupt during delivery of the ride, and portions of the ride being finished by the receiver of the firm.
When the Mindbender reopened seven months later, the trains were redesigned. Existing four car trains were converted to 3 car trains, each have four bogeys on two axles (front and rear). Anti-roll back “dogs” were added to prevent the train from rolling backwards during the initial lift. Seating capacity was reduced from 16 to 12 per train. The lap bar restraint was retained, but seat belts and a shoulder headrest were added for redundancy. The design of the vertical axle was changed so that the axle became a fixed part of the bogey, and the retaining bolt was moved to the top of the axle, where it is easily inspected. Finally, maintenance checks and scheduled maintenance downtimes were significantly increased. In the twenty-three years since the accident, the Mindbender has had an excellent safety record.
Prior to the accident, the Mindbender had two yellow, two red, and two blue trains. After the accident, the original trains were sent to Germany for rebuild into the trains in use today. However they returned only in red and blue colors, to ease the public perception of yellow trains which were featured in the media post-crash. Recently, the trains were repainted, and yellow color has returned.
After the government inquiry, the damaged yellow train #1 was returned to the mall, along with other materials seized during the inquiry. The first three cars of train #1 were stored in the basement of the mall until later disposed of. The fourth car which derailed, was cut up by welders torch into small burned unrecognizable bits and disposed of. Train #1 was not reused, but occasionally scratches in the paint of the current vehicles, might reveal the identity of train #2, the second original yellow train.