EDMONTON, Alberta -- Authorities today investigated a weekend triple-loop 'Mindbender' roller coaster accident that killed three people and injured 15, officials said.
The last car of the coaster derailed at a crowded indoor shopping mall Saturday night, one day after inspectors declared the ride safe, the officials said.
The investigation reportedly focused on eyewitness reports that indicated the wheels may have come off the rear car of a five-car train, which jumped the track and crashed into a concrete pillar at the huge West Edmonton Mall in the city of 600,000. No one was injured on the ground.
A police spokesman said one female and two males were killed. Another person was critically injured and 14 suffered minor injuries and shock, police said. Identities of the dead were being withheld.
The $6 million 'Mindbender' ride opened in March and was declared safe the day before the accident by the Alberta government's top safety inspector following a thorough inspection, officials said.
Witnesses said they watched in horror as sparks flew from the derailed car, which was traveling about 60 mph and picking up speed for the third 360-degree loop when the accident occurred.
The West German manufacturer of the roller-coaster has 100 similar rides operating around the world, most of them in Europe. Officials said the ride's design engineer would help investigate the accident.
Alberta Labor Minister Ian Reid, who is responsible for ride safety regulations in Alberta, said after the accident the roller-coaster 'may well never operate again.'
'As you know, it was thoroughly tested before people were allowed to use it,' Reid said after the accident. 'Until now, it had no mechanical problems.'