Kentucky Kingdom ride accident victim speaks out for safety changes

Kaitlyn Lasitter, ride accident victim
Kaitlyn Lasitter, ride accident victim
Randy Lasitter, Kaitlyn's father
Randy Lasitter, Kaitlyn's father
Monique Lasitter, Kaitlyn's mother
Monique Lasitter, Kaitlyn's mother
Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts)
Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts)

By Connie Leonard 

LOUISVILLE (WAVE) -- Wednesday, 14-year old Kaitlyn Lasitter and her parents joined a Massachusetts congressman in Washington, D.C. to talk about allowing the federal government to oversee amusement park rides.

"This accident has affected my life, dramatically," Kaitlyn told a group of reporters on Capitol Hill.

Speaking in the nation's capitol with conviction and maturity well beyond her 14 young years, Kaitlyn Lasitter is speaking out about the lack of federal regulation for amusement park rides. Rides like the recently torn down "Superman Tower of Power" at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom that severed her feet last summer.

"If I would have died for some reason, I feel it would have just been passed on," she said of the accident and the lack of regulation. "But I'm alive and I fought and I'm here today, now were going to change it and make it safer."

Kaitlyn who is now home schooled, says she was in bed for 10 months after the ride malfunctioned. She lost the ability to walk on her own, is in frequent pain, has trouble sleeping and she says her memories of being an eighth grade girl are anything but, normal.

"They're memories of me laying in the hospital, they're memories of me learning to walk again," says Kaitlyn. "It's horrific and it's changed my life forever."

Kaitlyn and her parents are working with Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts) who is trying to change what he calls a 27 year old loophole. Markey claims the loophole takes away the federal government's power to regulate amusement rides. He maintains theme park lobbyists have kept the loophole in over the years to keep the consumer product safety commission out of their business.

The Lasitter's believe shoddy maintenance on the ride and the operator's inexperience led to Kaitlyn's tragedy.

"Since this has gone on we've dug into this and this was clearly a maintenance problem that had this oversight years ago been there, this accident would have never happened," said Randy Lasitter, Kaitlyn's father.

Monique Lasitter is Kaitlyn's mom. She told reporters, "I wouldn't want it to happen to anyone else's family, and we are thankful everyday that our daughter is alive so I want your children to be alive to so maybe we can change this in Kaitlyn's name."

The Lasitter's and the Rep. Markey are asking for a formal hearing on the issue.

Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom had this response to the press conference: "Our hearts go out to the Lasitter's and we are working with the family to ensure that Kaitlyn is taken care of for the rest of her life. We deeply regret last year's tragedy and have improved our already stringent safety procedures to make sure nothing like it can happen again."

Online Reporter:  Connie Leonard   cleonard@wave3.com

Online Producer: Charles Gazaway  cgazaway@wave3.com