ON THIS DAY: May 31, 2002, Deadly microburst at Kennywood Park kills woman

PITTSBURGH — May 31 has a history of being a big severe weather day in western Pennsylvania, including a violent storm that killed one person and injured dozens of others at Kennywood Park.

It was around 7 p.m. May 31, 2002, a microburst hit the park, damaging dozens of trees and collapsing the pavilion above the ride called The Whip, which was located in a different part of the park then.

Stephanie Wilkerson, 29, of Monroeville, was killed in the collapse. Other people were trapped and had to be rescued.

Kennywood was packed that day with several school picnics at the park. In all, 40 to 60 people at the park were injured. Some of the victims required surgery.

Wilkerson’s family sued Kennywood Park and Landau Building Co., the contractor that built the pavilion above The Whip. They claimed undersized support posts caused the collapse.

The lawsuit was settled for nearly $2 million.

The pavilion was never rebuilt, but the ride is in now located “Lost Kennywood” section of the park.

The same storm system also caused damage in West Mifflin.