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Norridge Amusement Reopens After Deadly Accident

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Go Bananas

A 3-year-old boy was killed on a roller coaster at the Go Bananas indoor amusement park. (Credit: CBS)

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Updated 04/08/11 – 3:43 p.m.

NORRIDGE, Ill. (CBS) – The Go Bananas indoor amusement park reopened on Friday, but a roller coaster on which a 3-year-old boy died last weekend remains closed.

The amusement center, located at 4516 N. Harlem Ave., has been closed since Saturday, when Jayson Dansby, 3, fell off the Python Pit roller coaster and died.

Go Bananas reopened at noon, Norridge village officials confirmed to CBS 2.

But the Python Pit did not pass inspection, so the cars on the ride have been taken apart, and on village orders, the ride has been blocked off by drywall, village officials said. Go Bananas was also given back its business license, village officials said.

But as CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports, just because the Python Pit was out of sight, does not mean the roller coaster where Jayson died was out of mind.

After a day of shopping, Zaneta Szelig wanted to treat her daughter Summer to a fun day at Go Bananas, but that all changed after learning about Jayson’s death last Saturday on the Python Pit.

“I’m not going there. You scared me right now,” Szelig said. “I’m sorry guys, but I’m not going there. You scare me to death.”

According to records with the Illinois Department of Labor, it wasn’t the first accident involving the Python Pit.

At least three other families have reported children being injured by the ride.

In 2006, a small child reportedly hit her eye while on the Python Pit, causing her eye to bleed. In 2008, a bumped head and medical center visit was reported after the ride malfunctioned and suddenly stopped. Also in 2008, an 8-year-old girl apparently suffered a broken wrist while riding the Python Pit.

Since Saturday’s deadly accident, the state has inspected the six other rides at Go Bananas.

“I’m happy to report that all of our rides were found to be operating in compliance with manufacturer specifications,” owner Jerrold Marks said. “And that there was no indication of any human error involved in the tragic accident.”

But that’s not enough for some parents.

Szelig said she wasn’t comfortable taking her kids inside even though the other rides passed state inspections.

“No, I’m not going,” she said.

Illinois Department of Labor records revealed that the Python Pit was temporarily shutdown in 2007 and again in 2008 because of mechanical problems, including axle, wheel and other malfunctions.

It passed last year’s inspection, but a spokesperson for the state said the ride will remain closed until the state completes its investigation into Jayson’s death.

Jayson and his twin brother were at Go Bananas this past Saturday night with their parents. The boys were riding the “very small” Python Pit roller coaster when Jayson somehow freed himself from the safety bar and became wedged between two of the cars, Norridge police Chief James Jobe said at the time.

Jayson then fell about 3 or 4 feet from the moving roller coaster and was also struck by a roller coaster car. He died of his injuries.

The ride is in an area that is “walled-off” from the rest of the business and the building is divided into several sections.

Children stand in a line and then go through a “curtained-area” to board the Python Pit, Jobe said.

Attorney Michael Malatesta said earlier this week that he has filed a lawsuit against Go Bananas after Destiny Lofton, 8, broke her wrist on the same ride in 2008. He said there was something wrong with the construction of the ride, or the way it was operated, or both.

All rides at Go Bananas are for children, and they also have skee ball and video games.

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