Norridge Amusement Reopens After Deadly Accident

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.

  • annie k

    I dont care how small this roller coaster is. It is not apporopriate to put toddlers on rides that scare them to the point of so desperately trying to get off.
    I speak from my own experience with my child on the roller coaster the little dipper that was at Kiddieland. I was on the ride with my daughter and had to hold her with all my might as she was terrified once the ride started. she could have easily fallen out. she was trying to jump out of the car and we were high in the air.
    It does not matter if the child met the height requirements. a 3 year old child cannot comprehend risks and consequences.
    Parents, please do not expose children that are not age of reason to terrifying amusement rides.
    My heart breaks for the family

  • La'keisha

    It’s funny, but I’ve been on that ride and so have my younger cousins back in the early 2000’s, if not before, and nothing bad ever happened. Parents these days are just careless and allow their children to go all over the place. Sure, height requirements are also needed, but it is also up to the parents to realize just their child might react on their own. For one, my cousins and I were in the range of 8-11 yrs at the time, but it still doesn’t mean our parents didn’t hover over us to make sure we were ok and that we won’t do anything stupid.

  • dan

    If you read the reports in general relating to roller coasters no one should ride them. The force of the turns and dips puts tremenous strain on necks and backs.

    Might be a factor when you get older and suffer from chronic neck and back pain, the potential problems outweigh the fun factor.

  • Deceased Boy’s Family To Sue Norridge Amusement Center « Deceased Boy’s Family To Sue Norridge Amusement Center « CBS Chicago

    […] Go Bananas reopened April 8 after being closed for the better part of a week after the accident. But the Python Pit did not pass a safety inspection, so the cars on the ride have been taken apart, and on village orders, the ride has been blocked off by drywall, Norridge village officials said. […]

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