A 16-year-old girl died Monday after falling from a rope swing, the second death at a camp in the Carolinas this summer.
Earlier, a 12-year-old Wilmington girl died at Camp Cheerio in the North Carolina mountains. Those deaths prompted concern at the General Assembly, where lawmakers felt there needed to be more regulation.
On Monday, the General Assembly passed a bill to address the issue, and the vote was not close. The bill also increased penalties in cases like the Vortex accident from the North Carolina State Fair.
The bill starts a six-month study to look at what regulations there are in other states involving zip lines. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Ted Davis Jr. of New Hanover, who is a distant cousin of the 12-year-old girl who died at Cheerio.
“It tore me apart when I went to visit the parents after their daughter had died,” Davis said. “In talking with the parents, they are very appreciative of what I’m doing.”
After the study is done, lawmakers will look next year at improving regulations for the industry.
The bill now goes to Gov. Pat McCrory.
Also, an incident at the State Fair, where five people were seriously hurt after being thrown from a ride, is now likely to prompt change in state laws.
The operator pleaded guilty to tampering with safety mechanisms to keep the ride running and ride operators felt the penalties were not harsh enough and are making changes.
Ride victim Kisha Gorham told WNCN in the past, “I can’t even ride by there. It’s like my heart starts to race.”
The bill allows prosecutors to charge those responsible with a felony. It also increases the fines, multiplying them five times from what they currently are.
“The punishment, it was merely like a slap on the wrist,” said Davis. “It just wasn’t a deterrent.
“So this will really put teeth into it if somebody goes out there and just willfully does something that results in a death.”
The ride operator in the Vortex case, Tim Tutterow, has not yet been sentenced.