March 29, 1999
The state of California fined Disneyland $12,500 last week for what safety officials called "serious violations" in training and equipment leading to the death of a Duvall man Christmas Eve, according to an Associated Press report.
Luan Phi Dawson, 33, of Duvall, was hit in the head by a metal cleat as he was standing in line to board the sailing ship Columbia. His wife, Lieu Thuy Vuong, 43, and a Disneyland worker were also injured.
The report said the injured worker, an assistant manager, was standing in for another worker, but hadn't been trained to tie off the ship properly as it docked.
Authorities at the district headquarters of the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health said the ship, instead of stopping gently, kept going. The worker, Christine Carpenter, threw a line on the 9-pound cleat that was then ripped from the vessel, striking both Dawson and his wife in the head. Carpenter suffered leg injuries from the rope as it flung the cleat backward into the crowd of waiting tourists.
The report stated that Carpenter knew how to operate several rides, but there was no record of her receiving hands-on training at tying up the Columbia. Disneyland contradicted that in a later news release, saying Carpenter had indeed been trained on the Columbia, the Associated Press said. But records showed she had been trained on another ship, said Mark Carleson, deputy chief of the safety agency.
A second violation involved use of faulty bolts holding the cleat to the deck. Safety officials said the bolts were bent before the accident and at any rate, the cleat was not intended to stop the ship.
Dawson and his wife were taken to the University of California-Irvine Medical Center after the accident. Dawson died two days later. Vuong underwent minor reconstructive surgery to her face and left the hospital on Jan. 2.
The couple had lived in Duvall for about a year and had gone to Disneyland on vacation with their son and grandson. Dawson was an employee of Microsoft.