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Home Current Affairs Playland Accident Should Never Have Happened - Park Director

Playland Accident Should Never Have Happened – Park Director

[Update: The family of the boy killed will get a $1.25 million settlement and a scholarship in his name as part of a settlement with Westchester County, the operators of Playland. LoHud has this story.]

A Playland accident in 2005 that resulted in the death of a 7 year old boy should never have happened, according to Joseph Montalto, the park director at the time. The comment was made during court proceedings, according to this account from Jim Fitzgerald of the Associated Press:

"A Playland amusement park boat ride was understaffed and should not have been open when a 7-year-old boy died there four years ago, the park's then-director testified Thursday.

Joseph Montalto was the first witness to testify in a lawsuit the boy's parents brought against Westchester County, which owns the landmark park, featured in the 1988 Tom Hanks film "Big."

Montalto said park policy called for at least three workers on Ye Old Mill, in which boats move gently in the dark through scenes populated by gnomes and trolls. There were only two workers when Jon-Kely Cassara of Norwalk, Conn., boarded, late in the afternoon on Aug. 3, 2005.

Montalto also said only one of the two workers operating the ride was licensed to do so.

"They should not have been operating the ride with two people," he told Marvin Salenger, the plaintiffs' lawyer. And he acknowledged saying in a 2007 deposition that "Jon-Kely Cassara should not have been permitted to be on that ride."

Salenger suggested in his opening statement to the jury that Jon-Kely became frightened during the ride "and didn't know how to get out." He alleged a string of failures by county workers, saying they were slow to respond to the concern of Jon-Kely's mother and had not been trained to turn off the ride in an emergency.

Losing a child "is doubly horrible when your child is taken away from you by somebody else's negligence," he said.

The boy's mother, Elayne Cassara, hid her face in her hands through much of the testimony.

The county's lawyer, Stuart Kahan, acknowledged there were problems at Playland, but he said they were not responsible for the boy's death.

"The decision to get out of that boat was Jon-Kely Cassara's decision," he told jurors. He noted that the boy was a foot taller than the ride's height requirement and could read the signs that warned against getting out of the boat.

The 80-year-old ride had never had a fatality before, he said.

Two other people have been killed at Playland in recent years, on a ride called "Mind Scrambler" that has since been dismantled…"


  1. Maybe we should just dismantle Rye. Burn it down, put astroturf down ( the really soft kind) and put a bubble over it. This city will never return to greatness as long as there are people who refuse to take responsibility for their own decisions.

  2. Rather than going to such extremes, a more modest approach would be to look to shut Playland down. Why is our county government in the amusement business at all? Perhaps it’s looking to follow the example set by the federal and New York State governments.
    Have you noticed that the federal government is vying to compete with The Jerry Springer Show when it comes to entertaining the audience? Every senator and congressman is looking to get their 10 second sound-bite on the evening news by pandering to the lowest common denominator. Where is the best and the brightest this country has to offer? Certainly not in Washington.
    Our state government, not to be outdone, has replaced Client #9’s titillating rendezvous avec Kristen with a double-talking nobody who’s in way over his head and hasn’t a clue as to how to get taxes down and business activity up. Where are the adults in Albany?
    At the county level, we have a government that believes somehow that they must continue to operate an amusement park at an annual loss of $6 million dollars, while exposing the county taxpayers to lawsuits from wrongful deaths simply because they can’t even train the workers there. Not surprising, given that the jobs are used for political favoritism.
    Have you ever walked the length of Playland Parkway in the spring, summer or fall? If so, you’ve seen the enormous amount of trash thrown out of car windows from the patrons of Playland as they rigorously perform some cleaning on the way home.
    I don’t know about others, but I’m beyond fed up with the incompetence of White Plains, Albany and Washington. Someone needs to be fired, with loss of their cushy benefits (like health care for life and 100% pension) for what happened to Jon-Kely Casara, and the county should shut down this money-losing and life-killing “amusement” park.

  3. Matt:

    You conveniently left out the dysfunctional, no accountability, incompetent, biased Rye government that you were a part of for four years.

  4. Hi, I’m a Greenhaven resident and I’m here to complain. Seems like the cool thing to do these days in C-Rye. I’m here to complain about the mosquitoes. I know I made a decision to buy a house in Greenhaven which I knew is located right on the Sound but that is not relevant to my complaint. I’m not responsible for my decision to live near a huge body of water where mosquitoes breed. The only people who are responsible for the mosquitoes in my neighborhood is Rye City Council. I’ve been told that out little beach club has boats which have bilges filled with stagnant water were mosquitoes breed but that couldn’t be the problem. I knew the beach club existed before I bought the house but I’m not responsible for that knowledge. The city council is. I also understand that mosquitoes breed in kids toys, gutters, drains, puddles in tarps, etc… But that couldn’t be the problem. It must be Bob Shubert’s Pond. Speaking of which, is totally reliant on ground water. Bob Shubert is our water welfare recipient. He’s not responsible for his decision to build a pond which was reliant/DEPENDENT on water he could not self-reliantly provide. This is also the City Councils fault. Cover-up and corruption are at the root cause of Mr. Shubert’s problems, not his own decisions.

  5. Hi, I’m from Poland and I moved to America because I read a story on cnn.com where if you spill hot coffee from McDonalds on your penis you don’t have to work ever again. I thought, WOW, what a great country! Where else in the world can you move to where you don’t even have to be resopnsible enough to know that coffee is hot? This new home of mine is becoming greater by the day!

  6. Hi, I’m not really an ice skater but I turned into one this winter when I stepped on some ice on the sidewalk. I was not responsible for that step, some alien force from outer space took over my leg and put my foot on that patch of ice. I bruised my ass but am looking to sue the City Council because I think they must be responsible for the alien force that took over my leg. I’ll let you know how the lawsuit goes.

  7. I learned in school that the Revolutionary War was fought over the right of the government to be responsible for all my actions. What a great bunch of guys to come over to this new land and fight for the right of government to be responsible for me! I alway thought they were trying to escape the gov’t of England’s control over their lives but I know now that is not true.

  8. Investigate Otis –

    Compared to our county, state and federal government, local government’s great in that:
    – you can actually go and talk directly to the council members when you have a problem (that doesn’t necessarily mean your problem will be resolved, especially if its YOUR problem and not the CITY’s problem – see Greenhaven Hypocrite, Ice Skater, Founding Fathers and America is Great above).

    – Council members normally don’t stay after two terms at most, providing us with a constant supply of new thoughts, ideas, experience and expertise.

    – the council members don’t charge anything for their service, unlike the county officials who spent a large part of your money recently – I’m not joking here – debating whether to enact a ban on tanning salons for teens.

    – you can easily get involved in local government by volunteering your time by serving on one or several of the many boards, committees and commissions to make for a better city, and

    – your impact on the results of any local election is far greater than your impact at the county or state level. As far as the impact of your vote on the federal level goes, its essentially worthless when you take into account the Electoral College and all the voting fraud committed on a regular basis by both parties.

  9. America has gone from a land of pioneers to a land of plantiffs. And ironically, it’s the plantiffs who ask the question “When will this country return to greatness?”

  10. Greenhaven Hypocrite,
    Interesting you should bring up the mosquito problem in Rye. Your mosquitos are coming from Hen Island.
    I am one of 34 homeowners on Hen Island.
    Shortly we will be experiencing the annual mosquito problem that is about to take place once again this summer. Mosquito’s start to breed as soon as the tempture is consistently over 50 degrees on a regular basis.
    Go to our website http://healtheharbor.com/ where you will be able to view pictures of water tanks used to supply domestic water to homes on Hen Island. http://healtheharbor.com/gallery/images/water/25.jpg
    The tanks you will be viewing are horse troughs typically used to water horses on a farm. Most cottages on Hen Island use 3 tanks totaling approximately 1000 gallons of water per cottage.
    Hen Island has 34 such systems all holding similar amounts of water. That totals 34,000 gallons of stagnant water where Mosquitoes breed on a continuous basis throughout the summer.
    Mosquitoes usually stay within a mile or two of their origin although they have been known to travel much further. Translated that means that they are not only infecting Hen Island but also Milton Point and Greenhaven on a daily basis in the spring, summer and fall.
    In the past five years I have attended classes in New Haven Connecticut given by Clark Mosquito Control which happens to be the same company Westchester County and the Village of Mamaroneck uses presently for mosquito control.
    According to Westchester County’s mosquito control program “Operation Sting” – which is also listed on the City of Rye’s website – the first defense in an effective mosquito control program is to eliminate the breeding grounds, namely remove all standing water.
    As you can see, on Hen Island, that is presently impossible because Hen Island is not required to obtain water from a well or public source.

    With this situation in mind I believe you should inform everyone in Greenhaven and Milton Point that regardless of what they personally do to prevent mosquitoes, Hen Island is allowed to collect 34000 gallons of unprotected stagnant water spread out over the course of its 25 acres.
    There is no effective program in place for mosquito control on Hen Island. You should be aware that there are Hen Island homeowners who refuse to use their own homes due to the severe seasonal mosquito infestation every summer.
    The City of Rye does however have an existing legal code section that will allow the City to enforce compliance. It is below but once again the city will not enforce compliance.

    Section 108- 40. Infestation and Screening.
    A. Grounds, buildings and structures shall be maintained free of insect, vermin and rodent harborage and infestation. Methods used for exterminating insects, vermin and rodents shall conform to generally accepted practice.

    Section 108-43 hereby indicates that the responsibility to remove the infestation is the responsibility of the propteryowners of Hen Island and not the City of Rye.

    As you can see, you can you can remove the water from all the kids toys, gutters, drains, puddles in tarps, etc you want but until the laws on Hen Island are enforced, buy all the insect spray you can because you will need it. If you would like to discuss this further please call me @ 914-948-1100. I will be in all day.

  11. Ray –

    I think you missed the sarcasm of Grenhaven Hypocrite. Also, your faith in the county government’s Sting program is touching, but I’m afraid the only ones being stung are the taxpayers.
    I doubt that anyone being paid by the government has as much mosquito knowledge as you – have you ever considered volunteering your expertise? I’d be willing to bet you’d be amazed and disgusted at the money wasted in White Plains.
    Would be interested in your thoughts on the use of DDT.

  12. Mr. Tartaglione,

    I’ve been in the Marina many Friday nights and Saturday afternoons when Hen Islanders are speeding off to their mosquito infested island. They always seem to have a smile on their faces. Why would they be so happy if they were going to mosquito hell? Additionally, I know Greenhaven is west of Hen Island and the prevailing wind during the summer is out of the west. I would assume if anyone is geting screwed it’s Hen Island from the mosquitoes breeding in Greenhaven.

  13. Matt,
    You are right I did miss it. However my statements still stand. It is the responsibility of the city to enforce the laws of Rye. They have failed to do that on Hen Island. Mosquito control does not have to include spraying with DDT. There are many alternatives that should be tried first and I don’t believe you should ever use DDT. Regardless, the first should be to remove the 34,000 gallons of standing water on Hen Island. Prevailing winds and smiles, I don’t give much credit. Maybe you should call Mr. Iodice whose grandchildren are no longer allowed to visit Hen Island (at the request of their parents) because they had to be medically treated after a visit to Hen Island two years ago.

  14. MATT,
    So let me get this right. Wouldn’t want to misunderstand you.
    I obviously have been going to my City Council w/a problem, and it has not been resolved in 3 years. At what point does this take place? This is a matter of the safety for all the children of Rye. This is with no doubt the City’s responsible.

  15. Jim:

    Fahey was on the Rye City Council while you were trying to address your problems. He was one of the Council members ignoring you.

    Fahey was also one of the people that brought Shew to Rye and allowed him to continue his incompetence unchecked and with no accountability for Fahey’s ENTIRE term.

  16. Jim –

    At the time I was on the council, Bradford Place residents wanted a sign, and enough neighbors turned out to raise the issue with the council directly (the Traffic Committee had turned them down). After a lot of back and forth a new policy came out, which I was not in favor of, as it put the decision at the city manager level, and made it more difficult to appeal to the council. But, b/c Bradford had been making noise at that time, they got their sign.
    I didn’t think it right, and still don’t think it right that they got their sign at the same meeting where the council voted to change the rules to make it more difficult for others to get a sign posted. In effect, they were rewarded for being the most persistent, not for being first. At the same time, the council punted their responsibility to the city manager, who has a lot of other things to worry about and can hide behind state recommendations and traffic standards, common sense be damned.
    My neighborhood needs a stop sign on Sonn Drive. With an estimated 100+ houses in the area, and with only two roads in and out, Sonn Drive have some cars going as fast as 30MPH. Yes, I know, it’s the limit, but the street is too narrow and windy, and there are too many kids in the area to allow for that. We asked for a stop sign and got “stopped” by the T&T committee. One of my neighbors is now on the committee to try to change some thinking.
    My point is, if going to the council to ask them to do something isn’t working, change your tactics. Demand to be put on the T&T committee. Enlist the help of neighbors and concerned parents. Collect signatures on a petition demanding a better process. Speaking from experience, its too easy for the council to ignore an individual complaint – it may not be right, but it happens. Think of King regarding flooding by the Harrison line, ignored until he got other neighbors to show up with him. Think of Schubert, ignored until he enlisted the help of neighbors and friends. It’s a lot harder for the council to ignore several hundred people who argue that the problem is real and widespread.

  17. For the record, I joined the council in 2003. Shew was hired in either 2001 or 2002, I believe.
    I did not ignore Mr Amico – if you check the record, I voted AGAINST moving the responsibility of stop signs to the city manager role. I realized the move would make it harder for local residents to petition for putting in a stop sign in their neighborhood.

  18. Shew was hired in August 2003. I know you would like to distance yourself from that horrendous hiring, but you can’t.

    Your legacy will always include Shew and all of his antics.

    If you want to make yourself feel better, just think back to all the times you said publicly what a great job Shew was doing despite the numerous complaints about Shew.

  19. Just so I understand this; the two people commenting are Matt Fahey and Ray Tartaglione. One a former councilman who brought us the smaller Rye Rec for more money and the other is the person who sued his neighbors on Hen Island and the City of Rye and lost.He now pays someone to dress up as human feces and attend Rye City council meetings.

  20. Jim:

    It seems to me that Fahey is being misleading at best.

    He seems to say on one hand to get a bunch of people on your side and then approach the council while with the the other hand saying this tactic doesn’t work when they all your supporters show up at a council meeting.

    Henry King finally got addressed but only after several FOIL requests were filed and only after Otis had to do his own political whitewash because he had a hand in the approval of Harrison’s project.

    Mr. Schubert only got addressed after Shew sent the Crisis Team to his house and after Chantal exposed the coverup.

  21. Matt,
    I am & was well aware of all the facts you just presented. I agree & do believe in “POWER IN NUMBERS”. I also believe my situation needs no numbers. A child getting killed on a local street SHOULD NOT & DOES NOT NEED NUMBERS! THERE IS NO NUMBER THAT CAN SURPASS THAT!!! I’m quite sure you will agree with this. Unfortunately I am proud & stubborn & know without a shadow of doubt I am right. I know it is time for me to surcumb to this as I do have things in the work. One would think the council would have some human descency and not put a family with such a burden through this kind of crap! Knowing is the reason I always appear so angry – And I hate that they make me this angry. This fight has kept my wife,my daughter & I from mourning Jarrid the way we should……. “WITH CLOSURE” DAMN THEM!!!!

  22. Town Crier,
    To set the record straight, the case against Hen Island in The Supreme Court is still being decided in The Applet division. I have won the Case in Rye City court against Hen Island and the Case I brought against the City of Rye because the zoning board allowed a cottage to be built last summer with no sewer or septic permits was thrown out on the basis that the house was finished and I didn’t require a restraining order to stop the construction as the case was in progress. Just a technicality. Time will tell my friend. The problems of Hen Island are out in the open now and they will be fixed in time. It’s just too bad that so many heads will roll, just because of a corrupt few.

  23. Matt,

    Maybe you can have the county, state and federal governments meet you and your friends over at Rozs’ house in secret, before they have to go to the regular meetings. Then you can solve all our problems.

    When you say volunteering, you mean like the countless hours you put in as a volunteer firefighter?
    Because that real helps the community or did it just help you get elected?

  24. Matt,

    WHy hasn’t ONE Shubert supporter asked why there is no fence around Mr. Shubert’s 20,000 gallon pond? Drowming is the number one cause of harm to children. Not Joe Sack, not Bob Shubert, not any of the Senior citizens, not ONE person has asked that question. That pond is a attractive HAZARD to children but these clowns are too busy trying to bring cover-up and corruption charges against innocent, well intentioned people instead of focusing on the REAL issues.

  25. For the Record; I attended one TSC Meeting & brought up the new Stop Sign Policy in disagreement that Connors pushed for. S.Pickup’s response to this was “but Connors is on your side Jim”. That has confused me ever since. Someone please tell me how this so-called Commissioner & the Stop Sign Policy could possibly be in my favor? I don’t see it that way as I read into it!

  26. Not only did Fahey and friends bring us a smaller Rye Rec for more money than the bigger one that was proposed, they also brought us the lawsuit filed by the original contractor. The Rye City Council improperly voided the contract the City had with Xavier Construction when they voted for the smaller Rye Rec. Eventually, Xavier got a very nice settlement from Rye. Rye also had to pay their Attorney(s) which I believe was Plunkett.

    Does anyone know who the Attorney was that advised the Rye City Council to void Xavier’s contract which led to the lawsuit? Was it the same Attorney who then defended the lawsuit?

    Let’s not forget Fahey and friends also brought us the oops!! where did that $800,000 go during the Milton Firehouse construction. Was anyone ever held accountable for this?

    Maybe Fahey, Chew and the Larrs (Pete & Repeat) will run again this November under the Rye Citizens Last campaign. It went so well last time.

  27. Jim –

    I know that free advice isn’t worth the paper its printed on, but I offered the suggestions in the hope that they might open up an opportunity to give you better results.

  28. For those of you going to the council meeting tonight bring a bottle of Jack Daniels. Everytime Joe Sack or a Shubert supporter quotes either the Journal News Editorial or any other newspaper article as fact you need to drink a shot. You will most likely end up with alchohol poisoning. Obviously, don’t attempt to drive home.

  29. Let’s all go and show support for our mayor and council. Let’s take back Rye from the Crye crowd.

  30. Disingenuous Shubert supporters –

    You’ve obviously never been to the Schubert pond, have you?

    If you have then please describe to us the unsafe features given that particular topography which includes walls, hedges and other barriers to children.

    Any kid can hop a standard pool fence. Getting down to this particular pond is much more difficult – something I know from doing it personally as a grade schooler.

  31. The best suggestion which would make Shubert sel-sufficient and not DEPENDENT on anyone is the sump pump installed to pump groundwater into the pond.

  32. For the record…
    Shew was hired in August of 2003. I won the election in November of 2003, was sworn in on January 1st, 2004. Therefore, I had nothing to do with his hire.

    The Milton Firehouse construction accounting fiasco happened in March of 1999, due to an error on the part of the architect’s bid and extras placed on the proposal by certain council members. I moved to Rye in August 1999.

    Perhaps the writer was thinking of my involvement in the renovation of the Locust Avenue Firehouse, which was brought in under budget.

    Wrong again. Credit goes to the Locust Firehouse Building Committee, which specified the requirements for the building, the Finance Department, which managed the financing and cost analysis, and numerous residents who contributed enough for a slate roof to be added.

    And smaller rec building for more money? Again, wrong. I voted against taking on more debt than the voters had authorized, and then worked with other council menbers, Recreation Commissioners and the city’s Controller to get the community the needed space within the amount of money authorized.

    Thanks for the stroll down Memory Lane, but what does all this have to do with the County running an amusement park, and badly at that?

  33. These guys are just out to destroy everyone who disagrees with them. They are not out for the good of Rye. You did good as Council member. The Council and Mayor also did good with this report that is out. It shows Rye city workers did good.

  34. Looks like Shubert, Sack, Mr. Flotie and the rest of the Shubert supporters will be wearing donkey heads tonight. The hydrology report exonerates Rye. What a waste of time.

  35. Yes,
    Matt Kudos for the Locust Ave. fire house. Who’s idea was it to put flood gates on the Milton house and leave them off the Locust Ave. house? How did that work out?

    Didn’t one of the workers fall off the roof during construction? Have you ever seen the garbage in the streets down town? Maybe we should close the firehouse down? What with pubs in them there has to be liability and I’ll bet it loses money.

    Yes, lets get rid of Playland and all those summer jobs. Maybe we can get lucky and a casino will go in. That would be good for Rye.

    Should they sell Playland? Do you think it would be better for Rye if it was run privately? I bet they wouldn’t want to stay open later or have a longer season.

    Two of the deaths were on rides owned by a concessionaire and not run by county employees. One was a drowning in Playland Lake so I guess we should put a fence around that. And the last we all know to well. I young child on a ride like that alone and not enough employees running the ride is inexcusable but not enough to close the park.

  36. Matt,
    No disrespect intended. And I do appreciate any advise I can use to my advantage free,not free,how ever where ever,from who ever. So Thank You for that.
    To: Don’t Worry Matt,
    Speaking for myself…I am not out to destroy any one whether you agree or disagree….but I will tell you this-any one who disagrees is “OUT OF THEIR GORD”


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