Five people were injured, including three who remain hospitalized, after an accident on a popular carnival ride Thursday night at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, North Carolina.
According to Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison, the accident occurred at around 9:15 p.m. as the swinging “Vortex” ride, which rocks riders back and forth while upside down, began to move as its riders were exiting, sending several tumbling to the ground.
“There were actually some people that were still, I think, strapped in and holding on, really hanging on for their lives,” said 13 year old Max Byrn, who exited the ride shortly before it restarted. He told news reporters that he turned around after hearing screams and watched as the ride again flipped upside down. “They were falling like raindrops. It was really crazy… People were screaming and a lot of people were in pain. Family members actually ran away, like they couldn’t bear to look at it. There were dropping about 30 feet high up in the air.”
Byrn recalled seeing one person fall to the ground head first, knocking him unconscious. Other witnesses, including Caleb Norris also confirmed seeing other victims being knocked out by the fall. “We could see at least three people just lying there non-responsive.”
Ambulances rushed five victims, ages 14 to 39, to a nearby hospital for injuries of varied severity. Two were released overnight, though three remain hospitalized in good to critical condition, according to Debbie Laughery, vice president of public relations for WakeMed Health and Hospitals. Sheriff Harrison confirmed that some of the victims were related, but their exact relationships were not yet known. One of the victims injured was the ride’s operator.
Following the accident, State Fair officials and the Department of Labor have launched an investigation into the cause of the accident, which occurred shortly before the fair was to close for the night. “They will be looking at the diagnostics, all the safety systems and any piece of that ride that determine if it was indeed a malfunction of the ride,” said Labor Department spokeswoman Dolores Quesenberry.
Police at the scene also questioned around 40 witnesses, riders, and park operators. “As sad as it is, we want people to come out and have fun,” says Sheriff Harrison. “It’ll be safe. We’ll do everything we can to make it safe for the families that come and the main this is to jeep those that got hurt tonight in our prayers.”
The accident is not the first for the Vortex-style carnival ride, which killed a ride operator in 2002 when he was struck by the ride while it was still in operation. Nevertheless, the state fair was reopened again Friday, and it is expected to continue through its scheduled end on Sunday.
“The [Vortex] ride was manufactured by Technical Park International of Italy. This is the first time this Vortex ride has been at the NC State Fair,” said a release issued after the accident. “There are two Vortex rides on the fairgrounds. The other Vortex, located on the new midway, has been on site for many years and is manufactured by Fabbri of Italy.”
As an amusement park guest, if you’ve been injured in a carnival ride such as this, you should look to the assistance of legal representation. Depending on the circumstances that surround any injuries that you suffer, compensation may be owned to help cover the cost of your treatment.
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