Man left Disney ride, saying he felt sick
By LEANORA MINAI
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000
William Pollock felt ill on the Magic Kingdom water ride, so he climbed out of the log-shaped boat and stood along the canal, among the animatronic Brer Rabbit figures.
To get off Splash Mountain, Pollock had to cross the canal.
"I'm going to try to cross here," Pollock told log flume riders Sunday.
As Pollock stepped on the boat directly in front of theirs, it lurched forward. He slipped into the water and was struck and crushed by the next boat, said Bernie Presha, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Office.
Pollock, 37, of St. Petersburg became the first Magic Kingdom visitor ever to die in an accident on a ride, said Disney spokeswoman Rena Callahan.
"The incident that occurred Sunday was not the result of a ride malfunction," she said.
The Sheriff's Office has ruled the incident an accident.
"We don't believe he was trying to do anything funny," said Presha, the spokesman.
Callahan said no other agencies will be investigating.
The nearly eight-minute ride, which is a look into the life of the Uncle Remus tales' character Brer Rabbit, opened in 1992. So far, more than 64-million guests have ridden the attraction. The boats on Splash Mountain do not have restraints.
Witnesses told sheriff's detectives that Pollock was holding his chest in the tunnel and might have suffered a panic attack during the ride.
Pollock worked at credit reporting giant Equifax in Pinellas County. He was visiting the Magic Kingdom with his roommate, Christopher MacMillan, and friend, Thomas Riley.
MacMillan, 38, and Riley, 51, declined to comment.
They were several boats behind Pollock, who was in the last seat of his eight-passenger boat.
His friends told authorities that before the third plunge, they passed Pollock, who was standing on the platform with the Brer Rabbit figures. They asked him what was wrong, and Pollock replied that he had gotten sick, said Presha, the sheriff's spokesman.
They finished the ride with the final 52-foot plunge into the briar patch.
Pollock, meanwhile, noticed the exit on the other side of the canal. He had to cross it.
Johnson, one of the log flume riders, saw Pollock on the platform and thought he was a Disney worker.
"We come around this little corner, and he's sitting down on a wall on the side then gets up," said Johnson, a Delray Beach resident. "He kept putting his hand over his chest. He'd get up and pace around and sit down."
Using one of the boats as a bridge, Pollock stepped on the boat directly in front of Johnson's boat.
"That boat just took off," Johnson said. "The ride started again, and when that happened, he slipped and went to the left side of our boat and got wedged between our boat and the wall."
Then the boats started bumping into each other in a chain reaction. Johnson said the passengers on his boat were screaming to workers to stop the ride. The chain that pulls the boats kept moving until workers realized what had happened.
"It just keeps wedging him in farther," Johnson said. "It packed him in there so tight I don't think he could breathe."
- Times researcher Cathy Wos contributed to this report.
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