Cherokee Senator Harvey Peeler has introduced a bill that will specify standards for permits regarding miniature trains. He has named it “Benji’s Law,” in honor of Benji Easler, the six-year-old Gaffney resident who was killed when a county park amusement train he was riding was operated too fast and rolled off of the tracks. The passengers were thrown into a rocky creek bed.
Peeler says, “Sometimes the state has to step in and ensure safety standards. This is one of those times.”
A coroner’s investigation into the accident reports that the train worked well, but that the operator was driving almost three times the recommended speed of 8 mph around a steep turn. Twenty-seven others were injured in the wreck.
According to Peeler’s office, the bill would ensure such rides have:
• A properly operating speedometer
• A device that allows the speed of the train to be regulated at or below the maximum speed recommended by the manufacturer.
• Trained operators driving the ride in accordance with the manufacturer’s operation recommendations, plus stricter standards for driver testing and permits,
• A speed test of the train to ensure that the train is operating in accordance with the speed governor, among other regulations.
A handful of miniature train rides are operated around the state.