Cedar Point retires Top Thrill Dragster roller coaster that injured woman last year

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Cedar Point is retiring its Top Thrill Dragster roller coaster, one year after a Michigan woman was injured while waiting in line for the ride.

Officials for the Sandusky, Ohio-based amusement park announced the closure Tuesday on Twitter. 

"After 19 seasons in operation with 18 million riders experiencing the world's first strata coaster, Top Thrill Dragster, as you know it, is being retired," the tweet said. "However, Cedar Point's legacy of ride innovation continues. Our team is hard at work, creating a new and reimagined ride experience. We'll share more details and information at a later date."

Last year, a woman from Swartz Creek, Michigan was critically injured after she was struck in the head with a small metal object while waiting in line for the roller coaster.

According to a preliminary investigation, the incident happened at about 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 15, 2021 when a small, fist-size metal piece became disengaged from a train on the roller coaster as it was ending its run. 

"The object came into contact with a female guest waiting in line for the ride," officials said.

The object was later determined to be an L-shaped metal bracket attached to the back of the train and hovers above the track, said Cedar Point officials. It was part of the sensor system that tells the coaster's computer where the train is on the track.

After the incident, the park closed the ride while officials conducted an investigation. The injured woman, identified in media reports as Rachel Hawes, was treated at a hospital near the park in Sandusky before being moved to a hospital in Toledo.

In February, Ohio officials cleared the park in the incident. The state said there was no evidence that Cedar Point acted illegally or had reason to believe the ride, the world’s second-tallest roller coaster at 420 feet high, was unsafe before an object flew off it and struck the woman in the head.

The Top Thrill Dragster opened in 2003. It launched riders on a straight away at 120 mph before climbing a hill and then coming back down. The ride lasts less than 20 seconds.

The Associated Press contributed.

cramirez@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez