JACKSON, NJ — Support columns on the El Toro roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure are "structurally compromised," and the state Department of Community Affairs has ordered an engineering review, an official said Wednesday.
A preliminary field investigation into the Aug. 25 ride incident found structural damage to "multiple wooden track support columns" in the area where the incident happened, said Lisa Ryan, a spokeswoman for the Department of Community Affairs. El Toro remains closed while the investigation continues, she said.
Six Flags Great Adventure officials did not reply to a request for comment.
Ryan said DCA ride inspectors identified structural damage affecting multiple wooden track support columns in a section of the coaster track. The cause of the damage remains under investigation, she said.
"Based on initial findings of the ongoing investigation, DCA has deemed these damaged track support columns structurally compromised as it pertains to the continued safe operation of the ride," she said.
Fourteen people total were injured, five of whom were taken to the hospital for evaluation and further treatment, one for a neck injury, two for back injuries, and two for mouth and tongue injuries, Tammori C. Petty-Dixon, director of communications, said in August.
"No further information is available to DCA regarding the current status of these reported injuries," Ryan said. The investigation also is trying to determine the cause of the injuries, she said.
Ryan said the department is waiting for additional information and wants to consult with the ride manufacturer about the structural damage.
The state is not releasing the incident report at this time because it is part of the ongoing investigation, she said.
Witnesses reported hearing a loud bang and seeing the El Toro train jolt as the train finished its circuit on the track, Petty-Dixon said.
The injuries happened in an area before the last turn where there was a slight separation between the track and wooden structure, also described as a "pothole," a Six Flags employee told CBS 2 New York in August.
In June 2021, El Toro was shut down when a train came to a stop short of the brake run with the rear wheels of one car off the track. No one was injured in the June 29, 2021, incident, but the state "red-tagged" the ride after the incident, which meant the ride was prohibited from operating until an engineering review was conducted, officials said.
El Toro remained closed through the rest of 2021 and reopened this spring, after the state approved a repair plan from the ride manufacturer explained the cause and the repair, a DCA spokeswoman said in the spring. El Toro was "subjected to extensive testing and inspections" before the 2022 permit was renewed.
The partial derailment of El Toro in 2021 led to the park being fined $5,000 for not notifying the state community affairs department by phone immediately after the incident.
El Toro, a wooden and steel roller coaster that opened in 2006, takes riders on 4,400 feet of twists, tight turns and drops, including one of 176 feet, reaching a top speed of 70 miles per hour.
El Toro was designed by German thrill-ride engineer Werner Stengel, who has worked on many of the world's record-breaking roller coasters, including Kingda Ka at Great Adventure.
It was manufactured by Intamin, a Swiss company whose name is shortened from "International Amusement Installations." The company has created dozens of coasters around the world. Intamin contracted with Rocky Mountain Construction to build El Toro, according to Coasterforce.com.
Get more local news delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for free Patch newsletters and alerts.