More details about the fifth-grade teacher who died at Cedar Point Thursday are emerging. James A. Young, 45 years old, lost his cell phone and wallet while riding the Raptor roller coaster and later jumped over the fence surrounding the roller coaster into a restricted area in an attempt to search for the lost items. Young was struck by the roller coaster and died. The teacher had just landed his dream job as a guidance counselor at a local high school before his tragic death.
Sandusky Assistant Police Chief Phil Frost confirmed Young had been in a restricted area when he was struck by one of the Raptor’s trains. No other guests at Cedar Point were injured in the accident.
In a statement, Bryan Edwards, spokesperson for Cedar Point, said, “Park safety officials responded immediately to the situation. Unfortunately, [Young] had passed away.”
The ride was inspected by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, and no issues were found with the Cedar Point coaster itself. The ride had been functioning normally until the tragic accident.
The Cedar Point spokesperson also added, “Safety is always our highest priority here at Cedar Point, and we will continue to be vigilant in our efforts to provide an enjoyable, safe experience for all of our guests.”
An East Canton, Ohio, resident, James Young was a Cedar Point enthusiast and visited the amusement park every summer. East Canton is only two hours away from Cedar Point, located in Sandusky, Ohio.
Brenda Young, James’s mother, told the Washington Post, “That was one of his favorite places to go. He went there every summer with his friends. It was a fun time for him. Just a little break before school started in a couple weeks.”
She also said her son saw where his wallet and phone had fallen, and “in a thoughtless moment” tried to get them after he got off the coaster.
“He just hopped over the fence and thought he’d grab it. I know he’d never in a million years thought that something like that would have happened,” she said.
James Young was a special education instructor and a fifth grade intervention specialist at Louisville City Schools. He was known as a hard worker. Louisville Superintendent Michelle Shaeffer told CNN affiliate WOIO, “What makes a teacher special–and what (made) Jim special–is that you’ve got to find that passion. You’ve got to find what makes every one of those students tick. And that’s what he was good at.”
Brenda Young said her son had been looking forward to his first year as a guidance counselor. “He was just ecstatic about school starting and this opportunity to get his feet wet. He was a really special person…I’m not sure how we’ll go on without him,” she said.
The Raptor opened at Cedar Point in 1994 and is able to reach speeds of 57 mph. Back when the coaster debuted, it was reportedly the world’s longest, tallest, and fastest inverted roller coaster. The coaster was closed down after Young’s death, but the park remained open. On Friday, the day after the accident, the Raptor reopened at Cedar Point.
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]