HPD investigating roller coaster death at Houston Rodeo carnival

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by Shern-Min Chow & Courtney Zubowski / 11 News

khou.com

Posted on March 21, 2011 at 12:36 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 22 at 10:16 AM

HOUSTON — It was a tragic end to the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo Sunday evening after a man fell to his death from a carnival ride.

HLS&R Chief Operating Officer Leroy Shafer confirms the 47-year-old man died after falling 28 feet from a car on the Hi-Miler rollercoaster.

Emergency workers at the rodeo performed CPR, but the victim was pronounced dead at Memorial Hermann Hospital.

He has been identified as Brian Joseph Greenhouse.

When Greenhouse fell, he hit a 44-year-old man who was treated at the hospital for a broken ankle.

The rollercoaster had both a lap belt and locking safety bar. Shafer said they do not believe the ride malfunctioned because the bar and belt were still in place after the accident.

The ride, which has been owned by carnival operator RCS since 1980, had no history of serious problems, according to Shafer.

"There's been hundreds of thousands of riders on this ride," Shafer said. "There's never been anyone who came out of this ride, never been an incident where a bar or lapstrap came up."

Shafer said only one injury has been reported on the ride since 1980. That person suffered a broken nose and cheekbone when their head hit the bar.

In 2010, riders at the rodeo carnival got stuck on the ride for about 45 minutes when a crank shaft bent and the coaster automatically shut off. YouTube video shows RCS workers climbing aboard the ride.

The dead man's fiance was also on the rollercoaster, sitting two cars behind him. Shafer said they haven't found any witnesses who saw Greenhouse fall as the coaster made a turn.

The carnival rides are inspected before the rodeo opens each year, and the rollercoaster was inspected daily, according to Shafer. He said carnival operator RCS has an excellent safety record.

“I’ve been here 38 years. We’ve never had a fatality at the carnival during my time frame here. This is something we just hate to have happened,” Shafer said. “I guarantee you we have extreme safety precautions here, but we’ll look and see if there was anything else we could have done.”

The Houston Police Department Homicide Division has taken over the investigation into the cause of the accident.

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