U.S. Amusement Ride Fatalities
(1972-1997)

This page documents fatalities resulting from amusement ride accidents at U.S. amusement parks and carnivals from 1972 through 1997. Accidents since 1997 are reported in the RideAccidents news archives.

1972

June, 1972 - A boy sustained a fatal injury after being thrown from a ride at a carnival in Trenton, New Jersey.

August, 1972 - In Wildwood, New Jersey, a 4-year-old boy was killed after being struck by a boardwalk tram ride.

September, 1972 - A 14-year-old girl was killed in an accident on the Round Up amusement ride at a carnival in Hamilton Township, New Jersey. A police investigation concluded that the girl had unfastened her safety belt and tried to exit the ride before it had come to a complete stop.

1973

Wednesday, July 12, 1973 - A teenage girl was killed and another was seriously injured after the two fell from an amusement ride operating at a carnival in Huntington, New York. The passengers were thrown from their seats after a bolt securing the door of their car loosened while the ride was in operation.

1974

1974 - A 20-year-old female was killed in a Ferris wheel accident at a carnival in Ohio.

1977

1977 - A 14-year-old girl was killed in a ride accident at a carnival in Alabama.

1977 - At a Pennsylvania carnival, a 14-year-old girl was killed in an amusement ride accident.

1978

1978 - A Ferris wheel accident at a carnival in Wisconsin claimed the life of a 21-year-old male.

1978 - At a North Carolina carnival, a ride accident claimed the life of a 57-year-old man.

Saturday, February 5, 1978 - At Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park in Valencia, California, a man was killed after a gondola car of the Skybucket ride slipped from its cable and plunged 50 feet to the ground. The man's wife was also seriously injured in the crash.

Tuesday, July 26, 1978 - Three people were killed at Six Flags Mid-America (St. Louis) theme park in Eureka, Missouri after their gondola car fell from the park's Skyway ride. Another person, also riding in the car, was seriously injured. The ride was shut down immediately, leaving nearly 100 stranded in the 27 remaining cars, some of which had stopped at heights of up to 200 feet. Firefighters were called to the park to rescue the occupants of those cars. A park spokesman claimed that the car simply "dropped off" its cable.

1979

1979 - A 6-year-old boy was killed in a ride accident at a carnival in Pennsylvania.

1979 - At a carnival in Wisconsin, a 3-year-old boy was killed in a Ferris wheel accident.

1979 - In Montana, a 7-year-old girl was killed in a ride accident at a carnival.

1979 - A ride accident at a carnival in Arkansas claimed the life of a 26-year-old man.

Saturday, October 21, 1979 - On the Swiss Sky Ride at the Texas State Fair, two gondola cars dropped 85 feet from the ride's cable to the ground. One man was killed, a 20-year-old woman was left a quadriplegic, and 17 other riders were injured. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission concluded that the ride's operators knew of defects in the ride, but failed to report them. The woman won a $3.1 million settlement on the basis that the ride had been operated negligently in high winds.

1980

1980 - A person died after removing his safety belt and standing up on an amusement ride operating in Chicago, Illinois.

Sunday, April 20, 1980 - A 24-year-old man was killed after falling 60-70 feet from a Ferris wheel operating in Syracuse, New York.

Tuesday, July 8, 1980 - In an accident at an amusement park in New Jersey, a malfunction caused a wheeled sled to derail from its cement track after it failed to properly negotiate a curve. The victim, a 19-year-old male, was thrown from the car down an embankment. He sustained a fatal head injury when his head struck a rock. He died 8 days later.

Saturday, August 9, 1980 - An amusement ride having insufficient restraints for passengers flung a 14-year-old boy to his death in Elmira, New York. The victim was ultimately crushed by the ride.

1981

Friday, May 22, 1981 - In an accident in Rochester, New York, a 14-year-old female was crushed to death after having apparently fallen from an amusement ride. The ride featured electric-powered cars riding along a track. After the girl had left the car, she fell into a rotating barrel, which then forced her body through a 5-by-7-inch gap into a small space underneath the track of the ride.

Saturday, June 20, 1981 - A worker in Warsaw, Indiana was killed while placing a car on an electrically-charged track of an amusement ride. He apparently touched both rails and was electrocuted.

Wednesday, July 1, 1981 - An accident at a carnival in New Hampshire claimed the life of a 15-year-old girl and injured a second. The arm carrying the girls' compartment broke loose from the ride. The girls were flung from the car as it overturned and crashed to the ground.

Sunday, August 2, 1981 - An 18-year-old female was killed on a bumper car ride at an amusement park in Illinois. She collapsed on the electrically-charged floor of the ride after having been electrocuted.

Friday, August 28, 1981 - At a carnival in Pennsylvania, a 19-year-old male was killed after he fell from an amusement ride. The victim may have been standing up during the ride's operation.

Friday, September 4, 1981 - A 3-year-old boy sustained fatal brain injuries in a ride accident at a fair in Wisconsin. The boy lay down on the seat during the operation of the ride and fell out.

1982

Friday, November 19, 1982 - At a carnival in West Palm Beach, Florida, a 22-year-old female was killed in a 30-foot fall from an amusement ride. The carnival had closed for the night when employees manually lifted her gondola car without electrical operation, leaving her aloft. The door safety latch was opened, and the victim fell out onto the support struts of the ride. She died a day later from related injuries. The victim was said to be under the influence of alcohol and marijuana. No defects were found in the safety latch mechanism.

1983

Friday, May 13, 1983 - A teenager was killed after falling from the Eiffel Tower attraction at Kings Island Amusement Park in Kings Island, Ohio. He was in a restricted area of the attraction when he fell.

June, 1983 - In New York, a 21-year-old man died from injuries he sustained at an amusement park two weeks earlier. He accidentally hit his head while on a log flume ride.

Monday, June 20, 1983 - In Jacksonville, Arizona, two men, ages 19 and 21, were killed, and five people were injured when amusement equipment they were working on touched electrical power lines.

Friday, September 2, 1983 - In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, an 18-year-old male died from severe head injuries which he sustained in a fall from a ride at an amusement park. The accident was work-related.

Sunday, September 11, 1983 - In an accident in Texas, a 50-year-old man was killed when he fell from an amusement ride and was subsequently struck in the head.

Monday, October 17, 1983 - At the Texas State Fair in Dallas, Texas, an 18-year-old male was killed when a car of an Enterprise ride broke loose and fell to the ground. Several other people were seriously injured in the accident.

Monday, October 31, 1983 - In Buena Park, California, a teenage boy climbed out onto the safety rail of a parachute ride gondola and jumped to his death.

1984

Tuesday, January 3, 1984 - A woman fell from the Matterhorn bobsled ride at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, after her seat belt loosened. She was struck by an oncoming bobsled and killed. This was the park’s seventh accidental death in its 28-year history.

Friday, May 11, 1984 - Eight teenagers burned to death in the Haunted Castle attraction at Six Flags Great Adventure theme park in Jackson Township, New Jersey. A light bulb had burned out in one of the rooms of the attraction, and a 14-year-old boy lit a cigarette lighter to find his way through the darkness. The flame ignited some foam rubber padding which was used to protect people from bumping into a wall. A fire resulted, which quickly spread throughout the 17-trailer structure with the help of extremely flammable building materials. The fire eventually engulfed and totally destroyed the attraction. Fourteen people -- four of them employees -- managed to escape after the fire had started. Seven people were treated for smoke inhalation at an area hospital. Firefighters from 11 towns were called to the scene.
The families of those who were killed later sued Great Adventure, Inc., and its parent company, Six Flags Corp., charging them with manslaughter and aggravated manslaughter. The prosecution held that the park disregarded safety precautions, and that the disaster occurred due to the combustibility of the building, lack of sufficient emergency exits, and the lack of fire alarms and sprinkler systems. The defense cited a 1983 report by fire inspectors, which concluded that the attraction was safe for operation.
Great Adventure, Inc. and Six Flags Corporation faced maximum combined fines of $1.2 million. It was reported that they spent $6 million for their defense.
The companies were acquitted on all charges by a Superior Court jury on July 20, 1985, in Tom's River, New Jersey.

Saturday, May 26, 1984 - An amusement ride malfunction killed a 36-year-old man at a carnival in Pontiac, Illinois. A chain snapped on a ride called the Comet, causing the car, in which the man and his son were riding, to fall from the ride and smash into a parked vehicle. The man's son was also injured in the crash.

Saturday, August 4, 1984 - A girl died in a fall from an amusement ride.

Wednesday, August 8, 1984 - A 22-year-old male was fatally injured when he fell 60-70 feet from the upper portion of a Skywheel ride in Minnesota. The man died in the hospital while being treated for massive internal head and chest injuries.

1985

Friday, July 19, 1985 - At Sherman's Amusement Park in Caroga Lake, New York, a 95-year-old woman was killed during a ride on the park's carousel. The woman, confined to a wheelchair, was thrown from the ride.

Tuesday, July 23, 1985 - In Kearny, New Jersey, a 24-year-old man was killed while he was assembling a Ferris wheel. A portion of the steel structure collapsed, and the man's chest became pinned between two steel girders. He was left dangling 50 feet in the air for nearly an hour before the fire department could free him. The man died before he reached the hospital.

Saturday, August 24, 1985 - An 18-year-old girl died after having been thrown from an amusement ride at a carnival in Texas.

1986

1986 - A 23-year-old man was thrown to the ground and killed after having stood up while riding an amusement ride in Mississippi.

Thursday, May 29, 1986 - In an accident in California, a 35-year-old man was struck in the head while operating an amusement ride.

Tuesday, July 29, 1986 - At a carnival in Michigan, a 23-year-old man was killed after falling from a ride into a guardrail. The man stood up while the ride was operating. An 8-year-old girl was also injured in the accident.

Wednesday, July 30, 1986 - While working on an amusement ride in Texas, a 46-year-old man was electrocuted and killed.

Friday, August 8, 1986 - In an accident at a carnival in Rock Springs, Wyoming, a 9-year-old girl was killed and 13 people were injured when a high gust of wind caused an inflatable ride to break loose from its restraints. The ride, designed for children to jump and play, tumbled away from its operating area and crashed into another ride. The victim was thrown from the attraction and left with a fatal concussion after falling to the ground over 70 feet away. One of the other victims was also thrown from the ride; the rest of those injured were bystanders.

Sunday, August 10, 1986 - In Salt Lake City, Utah, a 9-year-old female was killed after having been thrown from an amusement ride at a carnival.

Sunday, August 31, 1986 - In Duncan, Oklahoma, a 16-year-old boy was electrocuted and killed while dismantling a Ferris wheel.

Saturday, September 13, 1986 - In an accident at a carnival in Durango, Colorado, a 65-year-old man sustained a fatal head injury when he fell from a carousel.

Saturday, November 1, 1986 - While pushing a swinging cage of an amusement ride at a carnival in Florida, a 28-year-old ride operator fractured his skull and was killed. He fell underneath the cage which he had been manually pushing to maintain its swinging motion. His head was crushed between the cage and the trailer bed. He was in a restricted area of the ride when he was struck. The man may have been drinking.

Sunday, November 2, 1986 - A 26-year-old man was killed while he was riding an amusement ride at a carnival in Florida. He was thrown 15-20 feet from his seat into a metal railing.

Wednesday, November 26, 1986 - A 29-year-old carnival worker died after he fell from the support tower of a Ferris wheel in Fort Myers, Florida. The ride was in operation just before the victim's fall. The victim may have been drinking.

1987

Sunday, April 19, 1987 - In Texas, a 15-year-old boy died in a fall from an amusement ride.

Thursday, July 9, 1987 - In Seaside Heights, New Jersey, a 33-year-old man fell to his death from an amusement ride after he apparently unfastened his safety belt.

Saturday, July 18, 1987 - An amusement ride accident in Holyoke, Massachusetts claimed the life of an 18-year-old man. The man was killed on a miniature train ride when the car in which he was riding derailed and tipped over onto him. The man was reportedly rocking the car. The ride later passed a safety inspection.

Thursday, August 13, 1987 - In New York, an 18-year-old male died from injuries he sustained in a fall from a ride at an amusement park.

Monday, September 28, 1987 - A 13-month-old child was killed in a fall from a carousel in Storm Lake, Iowa.

1988

Saturday, March 26, 1988 - At a carnival in Florida, a 15-year-old boy died in an attempt to either stand up or change seats with his younger sister while riding an amusement ride. The boy was killed after he climbed under the safety bar and fell. The ride was said to have been in good operating condition at the time of the accident.

Sunday, May 15, 1988 - At a carnival in Atlanta, Georgia, a 4-year-old girl sustained a fractured skull and a lacerated forehead in a fall from an amusement ride. She died 8 months later from her injuries.

Thursday, August 11, 1988 - A 30-year-old man was killed in a fall from a ride at an amusement park in Omaha, Nebraska.

Friday, August 26, 1988 - A 37-year-old man with a history of heart problems died after riding an amusement ride in Boise, Idaho. The death was related to his heart condition.

Sunday, September 18, 1988 - A 32-year-old man was killed while working on a Ferris wheel in Iowa. He was electrocuted.

Wednesday, November 23, 1988 - A 17-year-old girl was killed when a Monster ride malfunctioned at the Broward County Fair in Florida. The ride is similar to the more commonly known Spider ride, however, it holds 3 additional cars on the end of its 6 arms. The arm carrying the victim's car snapped and, during its 10-foot fall to the ground, an adjacent arm, which was still whirling, crashed into the victim's car. The victim was struck in the back of the head. Six other riders were rushed to local hospitals, most of whom were treated for minor injuries.

Monday, December 5, 1988 - A 65-year-old man was killed when he fell from an amusement ride which he was riding in Orlando, Florida.

1989

Thursday, January 12, 1989 - While riding an amusement ride in Nashville, Tennessee, a 5-year-old girl was thrown to the ground and killed.

Monday, July 3, 1989 - At an amusement park in Santa Clara, California, a 9-year-old boy was crushed to death on a log flume ride. He was attempting to jump out of his boat as it approached a steep incline. He slipped and fell into the water between the log boat and the side of the chute in which the boat traveled, and he became trapped underneath the boat. His friend had already exited the log. None of the ride's log boats was equipped with a passenger restraining device.

Sunday, August 6, 1989 - In an accident in Pennsylvania, a 29-year-old man fell from the frame of an amusement ride and was killed. The accident was work-related.

Sunday, September 17, 1989 - A 2-year-old girl was killed after suffocating in an inflatable ride in Detroit, Michigan.

1990

Monday, March 5, 1990 - A 28-year-old male was killed after being struck by a beam of a Ferris wheel he was dismantling.

Sunday, June 17, 1990 - In an accident in Georgia, an electrical wire shorted out on an amusement ride killing a 16-year-old male.

Friday, September 14, 1990 - At a carnival in Redford Township, Michigan, a 30-year-old ride operator was killed after being struck by a wheel which fell from the ride he was operating. State officials blamed the accident on poor equipment maintenance.

1991

Sunday, June 9, 1991 - A woman was killed after she fell from the Flight Commander ride at Kings Island amusement park in Kings Island, Ohio.

Saturday, July 20, 1991 - At an amusement park in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, a 17-year-old male fell 30-40 feet to his death, and 8 other riders were injured after the victim and two of his friends had been rocking their car on a Ferris wheel. Their car tipped over, the safety bar broke, and the victim fell to the ground. Another rider fell from the victim's car and hit other cars, causing the other injuries, before she was able to cling to the inner frame of the wheel. The third passenger was able to grab onto the outer frame of the ride when the car tipped over. He jumped from the frame as he approached the ground and escaped injury. The ride was later dismantled and no longer operates at the park.

Sunday, August 11, 1991 - At Fantasy Island amusement park in Grand Island, New York, a 14-year-old boy was killed in a 60-foot fall from a Ferris wheel when his seat dropped from its axle. It was found that the park operators routinely removed one or two seats from the ride each day to prevent the ride from moving around in high winds during off-hours. Each time the Ferris wheel opened, the seats were bolted back onto the frame of the ride. Investigators found that only one side of the victim's seat had been bolted properly.

Monday, August 12, 1991 - A 19-year-old male was killed after being electrocuted while setting up a Ferris wheel at a fair in New York.

Thursday, August 22, 1991 - In Atlanta, Georgia, a 29-year-old man was ejected from an amusement ride and killed. The accident was work-related.

1992

Thursday, June 4, 1992 - In an accident in Pennsylvania, a 30-year-old employee was killed after becoming entangled in the gears of a carousel. He was trying to fix the lights on the ride.

Tuesday, June 23, 1992 - A 5-year-old boy was killed after he suffocated in an amusement ride accident in Phoenix, Arizona.

Saturday, July 25, 1992 - At the Go-Kart Speed Bowl amusement facility in Belleville, Illinois, an 8-year-old boy was killed when his cart struck a barricade. While attempting to pass a cart that was in front of him, the child steered into a tire barricade, which surrounded the race track. When the left side of his cart struck the barricade, the impact threw the child from the car and caused the car to roll over onto him. The victim was 50.5" tall, but the ride manufacturer's specifications required that drivers be at least 52" to drive a cart. This is said to have been the major contributing factor to this fatality. The child's age and lack of experience were also cited as factors.

Saturday, July 25, 1992 - At a carnival in Taos, New Mexico, a 22-year-old female was killed and two other females were injured after they fell from their car on an amusement ride. The ride featured cars that rotate at a high rate of speed about a circular track. The victims were subsequently dragged along the railed walkway which bordered the ride, striking their heads until the ride was stopped. All of the victims had been drinking and were reportedly warned of their rowdy behavior. They had been waving their hands in the air and lifting their feet above the footrest as the ride was operating.

Wednesday, July 29, 1992 - In a work-related accident in Hillsboro, Oregon, a 25-year-old man was killed after falling 70 feet from a Ferris wheel.

Sunday, August 9, 1992 - At a carnival in Eden, New York, an 11-year-old girl collapsed and died while riding an amusement ride.

1993

Tuesday, April 13, 1993 - In Dallas, Texas, two men were killed while they were assembling a Ferris wheel.

Monday, May 3, 1993 - In a work-related ride accident in Norfold, Virginia, a 63-year-old man was struck in the head and killed.

Wednesday, June 9, 1993 - In Hillsboro, Ohio, a ride was stopped abruptly, killing a rider and injuring two others.

Thursday, June 10, 1993 - A sleigh ride tipped over at Santa's Village amusement park in East Dundee, Illinois, killing a 67-year-old woman. As the sleigh rounded the first curve, the horses began to speed up their pace uncontrollably, and the sleigh ran off the track into a tree. The 17-year-old sleigh driver was said to have been inexperienced and unable to control the horses, which pulled the 15-passenger sleigh. It was also found that the equipment which secured the horses to the drivers' reigns was not properly fitted. It was also reported that the horses were not behaving properly earlier that day.
Attorneys for the North Pole Corporation, owners of Santa's Village, settled a suit that the victim's family had filed and agreed to pay $675,000 in damages.

August 10, 1993 - A 17-year-old rider and a 19-year-old ride operator were killed on a fixed-site bungee jump ride in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The cable which was used to hoist the gondola in which the victims were riding broke as the gondola neared the top of the support arch, which was about 180 feet high. The gondola crashed to the ground.
One week prior to this accident, state inspectors were notified that the cable used to lift and lower the gondola was in poor condition, and posed a danger to riders. An inspector was sent to inspect the ride, however, he ignored his assignment, and the ride continued to operate uninspected.
The attraction is now out of business. The victims' families later sued the ride's operators and won. A jury also found the state inspections department grossly negligent.

Saturday, September 11, 1993 - In San Antonio, Texas, a man was killed in an accident involving a Sizzler ride.

1994

Wednesday, February 9, 1994 - A 32-year-old female employee was killed when she fell into a control box of an amusement ride at a carnival in Sunrise, Florida. She was electrocuted.

Saturday, July 16, 1994 - A 44-year-old ride operator was killed after having been electrocuted at a fair in California.

Friday, July 22, 1994 - At a carnival in Kentucky, a 33-year-old man died of injuries he sustained while trying to fix an amusement ride which had stopped. The man climbed into the ride and started it with the manual handle. When the ride started, it crushed the man as it rotated about him. He died after being taken to a local emergency room.

August, 1994 - In an accident in Bowcraft, New Jersey, a 6-year-old boy was killed after fracturing his skull in a fall from a Ferris wheel. His safety restraint bar had not been secured.

Monday, August 8, 1994 - A 32-year-old worker was killed after he was struck in the face by an amusement ride he was operating in Wisconsin.

Thursday, August 11, 1994 - At Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury, Connecticut, a 6-year-old boy was killed after being struck by a car on the Twister kiddie ride. After the ride had come to a stop, the victim experienced trouble lifting his lap bar so that he could exit the ride. The operator went over to the boy’s car in an attempt to help him, leaving the ride's controls unattended. One of several teenagers standing near the ride decided to play a prank on the 18-year-old operator, and turned the ride back on. The victim fell from the ride and was dragged under the track until the operator returned to the control panel to stop the ride. The victim had been crushed underneath the ride and died hours later at a local hospital.

Tuesday, September 13, 1994 - A 36-year-old carnival worker was struck and killed by a ride operating in Nashville, Tennessee. He was underneath the ride picking up change at the time of the accident.

Thursday, September 15, 1994 - In York, Pennsylvania, an 18-year-old ride operator was killed after getting caught in the ride he operated.

1995

Saturday, May 6, 1995 - In an accident in Dallas, Texas, a 40-year-old woman was killed on a train ride when her car jack-knifed.

Saturday, August 8, 1995 - A 25-year-old man died after falling into an amusement ride which he was operating in Miami, Florida.

1996

Thursday, August 11, 1996 - At Old Indiana Fun Park in Thorntown, Indiana, a 57-year-old woman suffered fatal head injuries and a 4-year-old girl was paralyzed after a miniature train derailed and overturned as it approached a curve. Riders were spilled onto the ground and the two victims became crushed underneath the ride. It was reported that the train was traveling much faster than its design speed of 12 miles per hour. The ride operator attempted to apply the brakes as the train neared the curve, but claimed that they would not hold. Upon inspection of the ride, it was discovered that many of the ride's brakes were either broken, missing, or not connected, and that most of the anti-derailment devices were missing. The speedometer was broken, as was the governor, which limits the speed of the train. Also, the track was littered with broken ride parts.
Despite its operating condition, the ride had passed two state inspections in the 3-month period prior to the accident. After the accident, the safety inspector admitted that he was not qualified to inspect amusement rides.
A state review of the park's own records showed that the train had derailed 79 times in the 2 months prior to the accident. The train had derailed as many as 9 times in a single day.
Owners of Old Indiana Fun Park admitted negligence, but denied knowing anything about the condition of the ride prior to the accident. They have since declared bankruptcy.
Old Indiana Fun Park closed and was auctioned on February 22, 1997.

Tuesday, August 16, 1996 - A 14-year-old girl was killed in a fall from the Kamikaze amusement ride at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, Illinois. The ride, which reaches a height of 55 feet, features two multi-passenger gondola cars attached to two arms which swing in a pendulum-type motion in opposite directions throughout a 360-degree loop. As the ride was operating, the girl, who was developmentally disabled, panicked and managed to escape from her shoulder safety harness. She then fell through a 12-16 inch opening at the top of the gondola. The girl, who had been riding with her counselor, then fell from the car to the platform. A gondola car struck her as it swung back down and dragged her across the platform.

Sunday, October 20, 1996 - A 56-year-old employee of Knott’s Berry Farm theme park in Buena Park, California was killed when he got caught between two steam-engine train cars.

1997

Saturday, February 22, 1997 - In Las Vegas, Nevada, a 3-year-old girl suffered fatal head injuries after she fell from her car on a fixed-site Sizzler ride. The girl, who was standing up while the ride was in operation, fell underneath her car. She was dragged by the ride along the ground for 3/4 of a revolution. The victim was riding with an older girl at the time of the accident. The ride operator had warned the girl not to stand up. The lap bar was engaged, however it was designed to restrain only the larger passenger.

Saturday, June 7, 1997 - One man was killed and a 17-year-old girl was seriously injured while they were riding a ripline-type ride at an amusement park in Lake Ozark, Missouri. The accident was a result of an incorrectly attached harness. The man was an employee.

Friday, July 11, 1997 - At Celebration Station, an amusement facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a 17-year-old ride operator was killed while operating a swinging boat ride. The teen fell into the frame of the ride in an area underneath the boat while the ride was in motion. He was crushed and died within 15 minutes.
Investigators from the Oklahoma Department of Labor ruled the death accidental, saying that the ride had not experienced any mechanical failure.

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