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Magic Mountain Riders Rescued After Ninja Roller Coaster Derails

By Robert J. Lopez, Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — About two dozen people were trapped for nearly three hours on the Ninja roller coaster at Magic Mountain amusement park and four of the riders were injured after a tree branch obstructed the high-speed ride, officials said.

The ride was in a “precarious position” as the people were suspended about 40 feet above the ground on the roller coaster, said Michael Pittman, a Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatch supervisor. Magic Mountain is in Valencia, north of Los Angeles.

Pittman told the Los Angeles Times that the four injuries appeared to be minor.

The 22 people on the ride were safely evacuated around 8:30 p.m., Magic Mountain spokeswoman Sue Carpenter said. She said two of the riders were “transported to a local hospital for precautionary measures.”

A tree branch somehow obstructed the roller coaster, stranding the car and forcing the ride to be shut down shortly before 6 p.m., officials said.

Fire Inspector Fred Flores said the branch was lying across the tracks, derailing the first car.

A specialized urban search-and-rescue team, which has extrication and clamping tools, was dispatched to the park. Firefighters positioned ladders next to the roller coaster, which was amid thick foliage, according to television news footage.

Stranded passengers could be seen talking to firefighters who were next to the car working to free them.

Magic Mountain bills the Ninja ride as “The Black Belt of Roller Coasters,” racing along a twisting track at 55 mph.

“Your whole body will swing out to the sides as you take winding snake-like turns at nearly 4G,” the park says on its website.

The ride will remain closed while inspectors survey the track and the area, Carpenter said.

“The safety of our guests and employees is our No. 1 priority,” she said.

Earlier this year, a Los Angeles Times analysis of more than 2,000 accident reports from Southern California theme parks found that accidents were rare.

The most common accidents and incidents were fainting, nausea, and dizziness. People were more likely to get sick or hurt on older attractions than on newer rides. And about 1 in 8 accident reports, as they are called, involved riders who were hurt while getting on or off an attraction.

The analysis examined 2,089 injury reports filed from 2007 through 2012 with the state Department of Industrial Relations, which oversees the safety of theme park rides.

Photo via WikiCommons

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Donald Sterling Accused Of Racist, Sexist Remarks In New Lawsuit

By Robert J. Lopez, Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — A woman who said she worked for Donald Sterling filed a lawsuit Monday alleging that the embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner fired her after she refused to have sex with him and repeatedly made racist and sexist remarks in her presence.

Maiko Maya King said that she was subjected to a “steady stream of racially and sexually offensive comments” by Sterling and that she was in a “romantic relationship” with him from 2005 until 2011, according to the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

“He supported her financially and she worked for him and his foundation,” the lawsuit said.

Attorney Bobby Samini, who is representing Sterling, said in an email Monday night that the allegations are “completely baseless.”

“Anyone objectively reviewing Ms. King’s claims will have no doubt that they are without merit,” Samini said.

King said Sterling made racist remarks about her former husband, who is African-American and the father of her two children.

The lawsuit alleges that Sterling asked King, “How could you be married to a black man?” and referenced her children by saying, “Why would you bring black people into the world?”

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Gloria Allred, is seeking unspecified general and compensatory damages, as well as attorney fees.

King says that Sterling told her in December 2013 that he needed her to be his personal assistant and caretaker.

During that time, according to the lawsuit, Sterling introduced King to “V.” King later learned that V. “was his girlfriend” and “no longer wanted an intimate relationship with Mr. Sterling,” the lawsuit said.

King said Sterling had agreed to pay her $10,000 a month but “dangled money only if she would have sex with him.”

“He confided in her that he had difficulty having sexual relations and that he was bored with V.,” according to the lawsuit.

King also alleges Sterling made racist comments about Latinos. “Mexicans just do drive-by shootings,” the lawsuit claims Sterling said.

Sterling, 80, is locked in a legal battle with the NBA, which is seeking to terminate his ownership of the Clippers. NBA Commissioner Alan Silver fined Sterling $2.5 million, banned him for life from the league and launched the process to end his ownership of the franchise after the public release in April of audio recordings in which Sterling made disparaging comments about African-Americans.

On Friday, the NBA announced a settlement with Shelly Sterling and the Sterling Family Trust that would allow the team to be sold to former Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer. A vote of the league Board of Governors will be needed to finalize the sale.

But minutes before the NBA statement on the matter, Donald Sterling filed a lawsuit against Silver and the league in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The lawsuit alleges that the NBA committed antitrust violations, breached contracts and denied his constitutional rights.

AFP Photo/Robyn Beck