Despite a string of fatal accidents at Westchester County’s Playland Park, including two on the “Mind Scrambler” in the last three years, a safety consultant has found that conditions at the amusement park have actually improved dramatically in that time. Jerry Aldrich was hired by County Executive Andy Spano to conduct an audit of the park after the June 29, 2007 death of 21 year old park employee Gabriela Garin on the “Mind Scrambler.”
Westchester County officials have contended throughout the summer that the amusement park is safe. Although Aldrich’s report did not directly address Ms. Garin’s death or the other fatalities, he suggested that County officials were correct in their contention that the accidents were beyond park managers’ control. Previous reports by the New York State Labor Department and the Westchester County Police faulted the Mind Scrambler ride operator for starting the ride even through he knew Ms. Garin was not properly seated, and Ms. Garin herself for taking a ride while on duty and not properly seating herself.
In 2004, Aldrich had found that Playland’s management had lax attentiveness to safety procedures. However, in the recent report, Aldrich credited the park’s “zone management system”, which assigns supervisors to specific areas of the park, providing for greater accountability of the park staff. As for safety improvements for the future, Aldrich recommended that Westchester County enact stricter oversight of the privately owned and operated rides at Playland. (The Mind Scrambler, which was privately owned, has been shut down permanently by the county). Additionally, Alrich recommended that there be much stronger warnings about the dark conditions on “Ye Old Mill”, which was the site of the other fatal accident in 2005.