(Topic ID: 213235)

This is INSANE: Homebrew Pin design is one thing, but a waterslide?


By c508

2 years ago



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#1 2 years ago

I'm sure most everyone has heard of the tragic, avoidable and pointless death by decapitation at Schlitterbahn in summer of 2016. The indictment is horrifying...

I can understand a high school dropout homebrew pin designer not knowing how to use math, geometry and physics to layout a pin or test it. But to do so at a (supposedly) reputable waterpark where lives are at risk really is insane (incidentally also the name of the ride "Verruckt").

These guys make Kulek look like a genius.

Verruckt (resized).JPG

#2 2 years ago

Full indictment follows.

2018-03-21_indictment__miles_swkc__filed_redacted.pdf

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#3 2 years ago

tp (resized).jpg

(Tr)action Park, New Jersey

#4 2 years ago

I have seen their commercials from the 70s... looks like a lot of (risky) fun, but people were a lot less litigious then.

Still feel like I missed out though.

#5 2 years ago

This was so sad. A tragedy that should never of happened. Why were those morons allowed to design and build this dangerous ride when they had no engineering experience whatsoever? Totally unqualified and yet somehow the ride was constructed and opened to the public. The boy that lost his life was the son a Kansas state representative and I truly feel for the family.

#6 2 years ago

The news here last night made the comment that it was known when they opened the ride that people were still getting airborne after they had already made adjustments to address it.

Too sad.

#7 2 years ago

Yeah....such a shame. Unfortunately very little regulation in construction of theme parks but they assume all the liability when accidents happen. It really makes it bad when there is a known issue that could hurt someone and the proper corrective action is not taken.

#8 2 years ago

This whole story is bananas, though I really enjoy the photos of the testing back when the boats were flying off, it's like rollercoaster tycoon:

verruckt (resized).jpg

#9 2 years ago

Those guys are definitely going to jail... so much evidence that goes beyond negligence into actual wanton disregard for safety practices and human life territory. I would not be surprised if they plea bargain and focus all of their energy on getting the lowest possible sentence instead of trying to defend their actions (and inactions).

No way the personal injury suit makes it to court unless the goal is to bankrupt the park. Whoever represents the family in that one is probably going to be able to retire afterwards.

#10 2 years ago

Wow.
Read that whole thing.
The details are astonishing.
It's a continual WTF all the way through.
Velcro seatbelts?

#11 2 years ago

Two questions? Where were the amusement ride inspectors? Did no independent national or state inspectors check the ride?

There will be some serious jail time for the various offences. A Rubber Band repair, seriously! Hope the bands were not for a pinball machine.

#12 2 years ago

Yeah. It is local and was waiting for my son to be old / tall enough to ride. Glad he was a little too young.

#13 2 years ago
Quoted from Silverballer:

the son a Kansas state representative

Why the hell does that matter...at ALL? What...he deserved to live because of who the parent was? No. I'm pretty sure that nobody should be subjected to extreme unnecessary risk at an amusement park, and it certainly doesn't matter whose family they belong to. JFC. I mean...maybe you have some logical reason for mentioning that, feel free to enlighten me...

True fact: Flying off the side of a water park ride has been a personal nightmare of mine ever since I was a kid. I've never gone down an open-style body flume ride as a result....and now I'm probably just going to say SCREW WATER PARKS I'LL STICK TO METAL COASTERS THANKS.

#14 2 years ago

It's criminal that there weren't government safety standards and regulations in place at the beginning. This is why we have government oversight, because someone is always willing to cut a corner somewhere.

#15 2 years ago

Driving past that slide on the highway is intimidating enough. I remember the slide getting a lot of attention on the news before it officially opened.......the news kept showings clips of the test dummies and the cart coming off the slide. Im like.......fak that. In the docket posted, it states the designers started testing the ride at night.....so it wouldnt get the negative publicity

#16 2 years ago
Quoted from Frax:

Why the hell does that matter...at ALL?

Calm down Frax. I definitely apologize for the lack of cohesion and poor sentence structure. I was not finished when I was called away to the phone and did not realize I hit the send button. It was free admission that day at the park for Kansas state legislators and their families. I was going to mention that I thought that a state representative is going to have a topnotch law firm representing them, not that they should need it in this situation. I do feel for the family though but not because of their political affiliation or social status. I can hardly imagine a worse way to lose a loved one.

#17 2 years ago

Damn. Velcro, missing brake mats, duct tape and rubber band repairs. Russian roulette at a water park.

#18 2 years ago
Quoted from SealClubber:

Yeah. It is local and was waiting for my son to be old / tall enough to ride. Glad he was a little too young.

Which if I recall the boy who lost his life was neither. Not making excuses at all, but letting someone who was obviously too small to ride was unexcuseable

#19 2 years ago

There's a reason why there are standards, especially when it may injure or kill someone. If you don't know what you're doing, and you look at a standard and go "what does that mean?", you should probably just stop. Also I can't believe there were that many reported injuries and they just kept going.

I keep bringing up the adam savage story about failure but it's a good one, particularly the part about a baseball pitching machine. Even if something works and only fails 1% of the time, it's still a failure

#20 2 years ago
Quoted from dsuperbee:

Which if I recall the boy who lost his life was neither. Not making excuses at all, but letting someone who was obviously too small to ride was unexcuseable

He was above BOTH requirements. The ride had a 54” height requirement, and he was 60” (5 feet). The weight requirement was for the combined weights of all 3 riders, and they were above that as well. Prelim police reports said they were under but it was later revised after further investigation

#21 2 years ago

Years ago I heard about the lack of engineering qualifications from a frequent patron of the park. He got to know some of the staff pretty good. I asked him about the designs of the rides and who did them (I'm an engineer so it is in my nature to be curious about this stuff). He said that they do it all on their own because there's nobody else that would design stuff like that. Didn't sit right with me. My kids have only been to the park a couple of times, and they had no interest on riding the Verrückt, but after my conversation I told them to not get on it under any circumstances. In hindsight, would have been nice if that was public knowledge.

#22 2 years ago

Tyler Austin Miles was reckless, unethical, lied all the time and acted criminally many times over. All owners wantonly ignored safety measures and public welfare. So many passengers were hurt or sustained major injury at that water park over two seasons. Henry, Schooley & Miles should be sentenced to ride their own waterslide 100 times; until death or a life injury.

#23 2 years ago

Related article? This one was a real bruiser to ride.
http://articles.latimes.com/1985-06-15/local/me-12419_1_water-slide

disclaimer- I only rode it once as that was enough.

#24 2 years ago

lol

Yeah, no, it's a f'ed up situation no matter who it was. Wasn't aware of the free day thing, so thanks for explaining!

#26 2 years ago

It's horribly tragic. I hope these guys go to prison for the rest of their lives.

#27 2 years ago

I am a Schlitterbahn fan - I went to the 'original' parks in Texas last summer (no crazy rides like Verruckt there, just 'standard' waterpark rides) and had a great time and the employees were great. This makes me incredibly sad on multiple levels, but if these details are correct, wow, just wow, jailtime is definitely warranted, for a long time.

#28 2 years ago

The thing that immediately jumps out at me about this ride is the enclosure with the netting. Wouldn't such an enclosure only be necessary if the ride itself is fundamentally flawed? Logic would dictate that any ride which requires an enclosure to guarantee that the raft doesn't go flying off the track shouldn't be allowed to operate in the first place. One look at that slide and I'd be thinking to myself, "There's no way in hell I'm going on that thing!"

That being said, I can't blame people for riding it. As patrons of a park like this, we tend to trust the powers that be to protect us. One would naturally assume that rides like this are not allowed to operate unless they pass some type of official inspection by the state. This is the part that I find so confusing. How were these guys allowed to create and operate such a dangerous ride like this completely unchecked?

#29 2 years ago
Quoted from gweempose:

As patrons of a park like this, we tend to trust the powers that be to protect us. One would naturally assume that rides like this are not allowed to operate unless they pass some type of official inspection by the state.

That's the scariest thing. The older I get, the further away from that thinking I swing. Going to the local fair and other such events, I'm always slightly terrified at the idea of those rides being packed and moved from town to town, and (excuse the stereotype) setup and run by fringe members of society. I'd guess that there's some sort of governing source that has to sign off on those rides.. but how many? Is that guy having a bad day? Does he even care? Did his boss just piss him off? No one really questions those things until a tragedy happens - and very sadly that always means it's too late for one family.

I rode on a scrambler at a fair against my own better judgement somewhat recently. The operator wisely suggested that we put my daughter on the interior to avoid her getting squished (read: crushed). It's amazing how much that ride forces you to the external wall of the cart. I heard creaking on that cart as I tried my best to keep my weight off of the wall, and I spent most of the ride thinking about how if the welds didn't hold, that I would be flung down on the metal bird nest of equipment about 4 feet down, followed closely by my sister and daughter.

#30 2 years ago

Traction Park. Haven't heard that in a long time. I grew up right by that place. There were always crazy stories

#31 2 years ago

ironically it was the netting bars that decapitated the boy. he might of survived if he just fell.

this is equivalent to a roller coaster only having top wheels with nothing underneath to keep it from flying off

#32 2 years ago
Quoted from Deaconblooze:

and (excuse the stereotype) setup and run by fringe members of society.

You mean Carny-Freaks? That's what we called them anyway.
The rule was always to keep your bicycles and other stuff out of sight while they were in town, or things would disappear.

#33 2 years ago
Quoted from Chuck_Sherman:

(Tr)action Park, New Jersey

Urban legend was that there was a body stuck in the loop. This park was a blast though.

#34 2 years ago
Quoted from gweempose:

This is the part that I find so confusing. How were these guys allowed to create and operate such a dangerous ride like this completely unchecked?

Even the supposedly safest and checked out rides can fail and cause death. With some, it's only a matter of time.

http://articles.latimes.com/2003/sep/06/local/me-disney6

#35 2 years ago

Another anecdote.. Wisconsin has a pretty well known water park - Noah's Ark. But years ago there was a more obscure water park for the kids that couldn't convince their parents to spend $60 a head and an entire afternoon afternoon trying to keep their kids from drowning - and that park was Rainbow Falls. When I was about 10 they released a new ride called "Zero Gravity". It was a U-shaped ride that you went down on a 2-person tube (front and back).

You'd get in at the top of a rather precarious platform with a single teenage operator to start you out. He'd hit the button to make the water jets propel you out. Those water jets failed to their job about 50% of the time, so the teenager would move to the back of the raft, and unceremoniously kick several times at the back of the raft. I don't know the actual grade of the decent, but it was damn close to a straight vertical drop. Then you'd slide up the other side, and eventually settle into the bottom.

There were not belts of any kind, nothing but you gripping the handles to keep you on your raft. We would run straight back in line to experience the horror again and again the first year it was released. The next year I couldn't get over the pit in my stomach, and I never rode it again. I still don't like rides with "drops". I can't believe there were no notable incidents on that ride, given its rudimentary design and lack of any safety features..

#36 2 years ago

I've always been fascinated by the life of a Carny. There's a tv show there somewhere.

#37 2 years ago
Quoted from gliebig:

I've always been fascinated by the life of a Carny. There's a tv show there somewhere.

There was! It was called “Carnivale” and NETFLIX needs to bring it back for season 3!

#38 2 years ago
Quoted from Deaconblooze:

Another anecdote.. Wisconsin has a pretty well known water park - Noah's Ark. But years ago there was a more obscure water park for the kids that couldn't convince their parents to spend $60 a head and an entire afternoon afternoon trying to keep their kids from drowning - and that park was Rainbow Falls. When I was about 10 they released a new ride called "Zero Gravity". It was a U-shaped ride that you went down on a 2-person tube (front and back).
You'd get in at the top of a rather precarious platform with a single teenage operator to start you out. He'd hit the button to make the water jets propel you out. Those water jets failed to their job about 50% of the time, so the teenager would move to the back of the raft, and unceremoniously kick several times at the back of the raft. I don't know the actual grade of the decent, but it was damn close to a straight vertical drop. Then you'd slide up the other side, and eventually settle into the bottom.
There were not belts of any kind, nothing but you gripping the handles to keep you on your raft. We would run straight back in line to experience the horror again and again the first year it was released. The next year I couldn't get over the pit in my stomach, and I never rode it again. I still don't like rides with "drops". I can't believe there were no notable incidents on that ride, given its rudimentary design and lack of any safety features..

One of these?:

IMG_2283 (resized).JPG

10
#39 2 years ago

Okay, okay, okay... whoa there, hold on everyone.

This is going to be a bit long, so there is your warning, but...

Federal oversight is absolutely pointless in themed and amusement entertainment and would not have helped prevent this at all. Using accidents like this to call for better federal or state oversight is not something that would work.

Now, before I go on, I worked in management in themed entertainment for a decent period of time, I still know people within those positions, and I am still well aware of the industry. Heck, I was posting a bunch of coaster pics in the MGC thread to amuse myself earlier today.

With that having been said, there is this great media belief that people are attracted to the danger of different rides, and the more dangerous they are the more people want to go on them.

This. Is. Completely. False.

People want to go on rides for the *illusion* of danger, not actual danger. Maybe that was a thing in the 1920s when they made rides that were so crazy violent, but today - that is simply not a thing.

First, today's society is extremely litigious. And with rides like this, even in the industry, I think that's a good thing. But let's break down this cost for a moment. The family is getting $20 million from the park (and in almost all cases, parks are self-insured - interestingly, in this case apparently they aren't, but even so, it's a big cost for that insurance then). I don't know what it cost to build, but let's say it was $2 million, which is probably cheaper than it would have been. A ticket for the park is $55 at the high end. The last stats I have is that Schlitterbahn hosted 560,000 people in 2016, so... If EVERYONE paid full price which they did not, their ticket gross was just over $30 million dollars. That means between the settlement and the ride cost, they have lost almost a full season's operating cost.

Then, the impact of something like this comes up. Type Schlitterbahn into the Google search bar and "death" comes up immediately, and it will stay there for a long time. That will cause people to not come to the park, as well as the news of the accident, which will cause them to lose significantly more money.

This was a dumb dumb dumb move, and they will probably go out of business because of it, or get really darn close.

And they should. It was clearly preventable. I talked with one of my friends who is still in themed entertainment when it came out and said it was dangerous as hell and shouldn't be open, and it was a matter of time. Sadly, I was right. They thought they knew better.

It will destroy their business.

They had their insurance company come and look at it though. They didn't see anything wrong with it. Probably because they only insured like ten waterparks at most, so no one is that familiar with the rides. In what I was in, in some locations we were the only group with the rides in the state. In one, the inspector - who usually inspected farms - would come and ask us to run the rides and then ask if they were running right. We would say yes, and we were "certified" or whatever the term in that state was as safe. That's it.

But, when there are like 30 rides in the state, you don't assign a guy that you're paying full time to sit there and actually learn about them because that is an insane cost, so people don't actually learn what they are doing. The feds or state shutting something down would have no real knowledge of what they are doing until it's too late.

On the flip side, the parks know, and shut stuff down quickly.

Before I was in management, I was a coaster operator, and the "lead" (or manager) for that ride. Every morning, maintenance would spend more than an hour checking the coaster I worked on, checking each mechanical part and walking the track. They would then sign off on it and sign it to me.

When I would come in, I would also walk the entire track looking for any issues, we would run the ride doing all safety checks, and then I would have to ride each train to see if the ride "felt" right. After all of this, I would sign it off and we would open to the public.

One day, everything came up normal but when I rode it, it felt a little weird. Maintenance came and checked the ride and found no problems. The feeling that was different - something I could only explain but was not something you could see on the ride or on it's computers - could not be replicated... but they refused to sign it off for another two hours while we experimented to make sure. After it was signed off, I was under strict rules to ride it at least every 30 minutes and IMMEDIATELY shut it down if I felt anything different or if anything was different at all.

That was for a slight problem that was not repeatable, with no federal oversight. We did not screw around.

And that is how it should be. During my time in management, another park had an accident on a similar ride to one of ours. The media coverage of that ride's accident - which was not fatal and was not something that could be explained easily - led to a nearly 20% drop in attendance chain wide.

You do NOT mess with safety in the themed entertainment industry. This doesn't even get into the offseason maintenance like fully taking apart rides and x-raying the whole train piece by piece too...

Having said that, two things:

1) Waterslides are a different beast. They are NOT attached to the slide itself like a roller coaster is. This, as well as the lack of ability to be locked down onto the slide, means that they are inherently more dangerous than theme parks. That isn't to say they are dangerous, but if you see a slide doing something that doesn't seem like it should be possible, you shouldn't do it. Verruckt would have been fine if it wasn't for that stupid hill they added to it and the mesh above the hill. If it was a straight drop, straight away that slowed you down, it probably would be fine and this wouldn't have happened. And never go on a slide that is made by the park.

2) Traveling carnivals are also a different beast. For me, with my ride being shut down above, I still got paid, as did maintenance and everyone else. If I am a carny bringing my ride with me, if it is shut down I'm not getting paid. Additionally, by their nature, when there are carnival accidents, the location the carnival was gets named on TV, not the carnival company usually, making it very difficult to actually track which ones have had major issues. The operators are not attentive, and it simply isn't a thing I trust.

...

So yeah. The people running this park were absolutely morons who deserve everything they are going to get. If the park survives, it will be a drastically, drastically different place in the future. And it should be.

#41 2 years ago

Pretty much. I remember it being much taller and steeper, but that could have been my 10 year old memory.

-3
#42 2 years ago
Quoted from Frax:

lol
Yeah, no, it's a f'ed up situation no matter who it was. Wasn't aware of the free day thing, so thanks for explaining!

Its horrific what the boy went though and his little brother who watched it happen, but I can't give the father a pass.

The thing about the boys father was that he was an outspoken opponent of government regulations and ridiculously large legal jury awards against private business. His voting record went along with the rest of the majority party voted into office. Kansas (like Texas) is known for being very business friendly and consumer unfriendly. This is why there was little government oversight to inspect these rides and check the designers credentials. He certainly didn't care for anyone else's children until it happened to his. Still, I remember reading at the time, he said it was gods plan and that his son was with Jesus now. According to that logic, I can't see how the theme park is responsible. He should sue Jesus.

#43 2 years ago
Quoted from vicjw66:

His voting record went along with the rest of the majority party voted into office. Kansas (like Texas) is known for being very business friendly and consumer unfriendly. This is why there was little government oversight to inspect these rides and check the designers credentials.

I know I made a huge block of text above that most people won't read, but... I guess here's another with new stats...

No. There isn't government oversight because if you are in this business, business friendly = safe. There is not a world where people flying off a slide and dying makes more people come to their park, or where there is any benefit to a slide that may kill people.

The park should be responsible for checking the designers credentials. In this case, the person who was running the park thought they knew better and decided to do something on their own. No one in the company had the nerve to stop them at any point and say it was stupid. The lawsuit is $20mil+ paid out, the ride was bought and will be taken out and trashed, and I guarantee their attendance dropped last year by at least 20% and will be the same or worse this year.

For a park that brought in 560,000 people at $55 for their max priced ticket in 2016. If we assume they had discounts and season passes and whatnot, a revenue base of $20 million for the year is reasonable. So they lost all that revenue for a year and more.

Water parks are *extremely* labor intensive ventures too. It's not like that is mostly profit. Additionally, they don't sell tons of stuff inside. The whole swim suits don't easily allow you to carry a wallet thing is tough. So, I guarantee that is a huge cut into their proceeds.

If attendance drops 20% per year (which if I were them, that would be a great scenario), that is a decrease in revenue (using the $20 mil estimate) of $4 million per year. And, that decrease probably sticks around for more like 5 years than 2.

Add this all up, and they are losing minimally $20 million (settlement) + $8 million (attendance decrease 2017 / 18) + $2 million (estimate to make the ride) = $30 million dollars.

There is NO scenario where a single ride would ever make up a $30 million revenue shortfall in one year in a park that only makes $30 million a year.

The risk / reward of building a dangerous ride like this is absurd. The head guy decided he needed it to get on the news and get publicity. He thought he could make it safe. And he could have with better design or a more boring ride, but he decided not to.

In the parks I worked for, we had checks and balances, and you would have been demoted or fired for even suggesting such a stupid thing. Apparently they had no checks on him, and now the company will pay the price that is much higher than keeping people safe to begin with.

And, to be clear, it sucks that what happened did, but no federal or state guy who checks on farm equipment all day or who inspects factories for worker safety would have known how to design that slide either. The guy who runs that park would have been in regular contact with people who could have, all of whom I'm positive told him he was insane and they refused. Hell, even their insurance guy thought it was fine.

#44 2 years ago
Quoted from Deaconblooze:

Pretty much. I remember it being much taller and steeper, but that could have been my 10 year old memory.

10 year old memory. I feel the same way of one of those vertical drop slides that I rode when I was a kid. I see it now, and my thoughts are 'man, it used to be so much taller!'

#45 2 years ago
Quoted from goatdan:

I know I made a huge block of text above that most people won't read, but... I guess here's another with new stats...
No. There isn't government oversight because if you are in this business, business friendly = safe. There is not a world where people flying off a slide and dying makes more people come to their park, or where there is any benefit to a slide that may kill people.
The park should be responsible for checking the designers credentials. In this case, the person who was running the park thought they knew better and decided to do something on their own. No one in the company had the nerve to stop them at any point and say it was stupid. The lawsuit is $20mil+ paid out, the ride was bought and will be taken out and trashed, and I guarantee their attendance dropped last year by at least 20% and will be the same or worse this year.
For a park that brought in 560,000 people at $55 for their max priced ticket in 2016. If we assume they had discounts and season passes and whatnot, a revenue base of $20 million for the year is reasonable. So they lost all that revenue for a year and more.
Water parks are *extremely* labor intensive ventures too. It's not like that is mostly profit. Additionally, they don't sell tons of stuff inside. The whole swim suits don't easily allow you to carry a wallet thing is tough. So, I guarantee that is a huge cut into their proceeds.
If attendance drops 20% per year (which if I were them, that would be a great scenario), that is a decrease in revenue (using the $20 mil estimate) of $4 million per year. And, that decrease probably sticks around for more like 5 years than 2.
Add this all up, and they are losing minimally $20 million (settlement) + $8 million (attendance decrease 2017 / 18) + $2 million (estimate to make the ride) = $30 million dollars.
There is NO scenario where a single ride would ever make up a $30 million revenue shortfall in one year in a park that only makes $30 million a year.
The risk / reward of building a dangerous ride like this is absurd. The head guy decided he needed it to get on the news and get publicity. He thought he could make it safe. And he could have with better design or a more boring ride, but he decided not to.
In the parks I worked for, we had checks and balances, and you would have been demoted or fired for even suggesting such a stupid thing. Apparently they had no checks on him, and now the company will pay the price that is much higher than keeping people safe to begin with.
And, to be clear, it sucks that what happened did, but no federal or state guy who checks on farm equipment all day or who inspects factories for worker safety would have known how to design that slide either. The guy who runs that park would have been in regular contact with people who could have, all of whom I'm positive told him he was insane and they refused. Hell, even their insurance guy thought it was fine.

What the heck is your point exactly? That government oversight is not necessary because building an unsafe ride is not profitable? And government regulatory bodies are filled with complete idiots who don't know how things work? And therefore waterparks should be allowed to self regulate?

Sounds good in theory, and yet here we are.

#46 2 years ago
Quoted from vicjw66:

Sounds good in theory, and yet here we are.

One death. I doubt that more strict federal oversight would reduce this to zero.

#47 2 years ago
Quoted from vicjw66:

What the heck is your point exactly? That government oversight is not necessary because building an unsafe ride is not profitable? And government regulatory bodies are filled with complete idiots who don't know how things work? And therefore waterparks should be allowed to self regulate?
Sounds good in theory, and yet here we are.

Yeah, the park has clearly profited a ton by this accident and has absolutely no incentive to self regulate because when you hear about an accident, everyone just wants to go ride, right?

#48 2 years ago
Quoted from frolic:

It's criminal that there weren't government safety standards and regulations in place at the beginning. This is why we have government oversight, because someone is always willing to cut a corner somewhere.

Sorry but look how the government has handled social security and our medical and just about everything else the touch. There needs to be something but not government

#49 2 years ago
Quoted from zr11990:

Sorry but look how the government has handled social security and our medical and just about everything else the touch. There needs to be something but not government

When I put my pool in, I had to get a building permit for the fence to make sure I created a safe space and no kid is going to wander in and kill themselves. Dude came and checked it out and closed the permit.

#50 2 years ago

The thing is I probably would have ridden it. I am alway looking for something more thrilling than the next. There was a coaster in here that when built had such a tight loop that it caused some to pass out. I loved it and was pissed when they slowed it down. But of course you didn’t go flying through the air either.

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Matt's Basement Arcade
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Hey there! Got a moment?

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