Four Times a Roller Coaster Ride Saved a Life

Despite often having a dangerous reputation due to the media sensationalizing the rare ride incidents, roller coasters are remarkably safe. In fact, some surprising health benefits of going to an amusement have been documented before. First, there are those long walks just to get on the roller coasters, then when you go on the thrill ride they’re a good workout for your hearts and lungs. Roller coasters are good for stress relief, fighting phobias, and clearing your sinuses. Some individuals have used them as motivation to lose weight, as Jared Ream did this past summer when he lost 190 pounds in order to be able to ride Orion at Kings Island. Riding roller coasters has even been found to be an unconventional way of clearing painful kidney stones.

But that’s not all. While I always figured a day spent at a theme park is good for your health, I never realized it might also save your life. I’ve come across four instances where, had these individuals not ridden a roller coaster, they may not be around today to tell their remarkable, and eerily similar, stories.

Emma Bassett

I first heard about Emma Bassett’s story in the book Creating My Own Nemesis, authored by famous theme park designer John Wardley. Emma Bassett had a huge brain tumor and was probably hours from death had she not ridden the Nemesis Inferno* roller coaster at Thorpe Park. The coaster ride redistributed fluid in her skull, relieving pressure on her brain that made it possible to live until she had two operations. John was stunned when he learned the news during a film shoot, a story he retells in his book.

*There are contradicting reports about which roller coaster it actually was Emma rode: Colossus or Nemesis Inferno.

Sally Dare

Sally Dare was on a family vacation in Florida when she rode The Incredible Hulk coaster at Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park. Upon exiting the ride, she had headaches and blurred vision. The movements of the coaster had dislodged a tumor. Because of the early discovery, doctors were able to remove it successfully as it was only 2 cm in diameter. Without the coaster ride, it could have been another year or two before the tumor was discovered, and removable might have been impossible.

Molly White

A visit to Thorpe Park in April 2016 saved Molly White’s life, though she didn’t know it at the time. When she got off Colossus, the ten inversion Intamin looping coaster, she had a headache. The enduring pain from the headache and vomiting fits made her seek out medical treatment which lead to doctors discovering a brain tumor. Without riding the coaster and having the cancerous mass shifted enough to cause symptoms, who knows when it would have been discovered. It probably would have grown undetected until it was too late.

Michaeline Schmit

Michaeline Schmit was on a family vacation at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. She decided to ride a roller coaster and when she stepped off the ride, she had a migraine on the left side of her head. The pain never really went away, so once she returned home, she sought out medical treatment. After numerous doctor visits, she finally found out she had a brain tumor. Like the other women, if not for the roller coaster ride, it’s possible the tumor could have gone undiscovered until it was too late to operate. Instead, Michaeline had a successful surgery and hasn’t had any migraines since.

Roller Coasters Can Be Good For Your Health

One of the lessons here is don’t be alarmed if you have a headache immediately after riding a roller coaster or thrill ride. It doesn’t automatically mean you have a brain tumor. But if you do have a migraine, dizziness, sight issues, or other unusual symptoms lingering several days after visiting a theme park, then you should definitely seek out medication attention – it might save your life!

Every summer there’s always at least one sensational story in the media making it seem as though roller coasters and amusement parks are unsafe. It’s refreshing to hear a story from the other side. The next time you overhear someone in a queue talking about how “this ride killed someone!!” you can tell them about the times a roller coaster ride saved a life.

Do you know of any other stories where a roller coaster ride saved a life or made a big health impact? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below if you have!