As August winds down and September approaches, many people and families are trying to get outside and enjoy the summer weather before it’s gone. For many groups, fairs and carnivals are ideal because they offer a wide variety of activities that are sure to entertain just about any one. Small children may be entertained with the animals presents, teens often gravitate towards the rides, while adults and parents are often most interested in the vendors and carnival food. Regardless of your particular interest at the fair, visitors expect a safe and enjoyable day for all people in the party.
Unfortunately, despite planning and the best intentions, sometimes things do not go as planned. This past week and weekend was a particularly trying one for fair-goers in Michigan. Two distinct accidents at 2 separate fairs resulted in 3 serious injuries. Two injuries occurred when children fell out of a Ferris wheel, while the third occurred at the mud race pit.
16-year old and 8-year-old fall from Chelsea Ferris Wheel
On the evening of Friday, August 22nd, North American Midway entertainment confirmed that there had been an incident with one of its rides the previous day. In a written statement the company informed the public that while the cause of the Ferris wheel accident was not yet known, the company had ruled out malfunction or mechanical defect. The company has stated that the ride had been inspected by state regulators prior to the accident and following it. Both inspections returned a clean bill of health for the Ferris wheel ride.
Authorities have speculated that the accident may have occurred due to one of the children carrying crutches onto the ride. According to an eyewitness’ account as described to mlive.com, he first noticed that there may have been a problem at roughly 8:20 p.m. he stated that he thought he saw two Ferris wheel cars stuck together. He described that as the two linked cars traveled along the wheel’s circumference, the car carrying the children teetered closer and closer to tipping over. Then, when the Ferris wheel car passed the 4 p.m. position, the car tipped forward and released the children into the air where they would then plummet approximately 15 feet to the ground.
The 16-year-old girl landed on the Ferris wheel’s platform where she was initially unresponsive. The 8-year-old boy landed on the ground close to the ride. He was bleeding, but was conscious and responsive. The children were taken to C.S. Mott Children’s hospital where they were treated for their injuries and listed as being in critical, but stable, condition. While the boy was released on Saturday afternoon, his sister was still being held for further observation due to her serious injuries.
Mud Truck Runs Over Pit Crew Worker at Hudsonville Community Fair
In a bizarre twist, the second accident that occurred at a Michigan fair also involved siblings. However in this instance it was one sibling who contributed to the accident and the severe injury of the other. This second catastrophic accident occurred around the same time, but at the Hudsonville Community Fair. While details were still sparse, the accident may have occurred when the injured man was standing on the truck’s wheel or tire. When the driver started the vehicle, the truck lurched forward pulling the brother into the wheel base. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and was listed as being in critical condition at the Spectrum Health Butterworth hospital.
Does the Patch-work of Regulatory Standards Protect your Family Adequately?
As has been discussed widely in numerous national publications, there is no national standard or regime for fair, carnival, or amusement park safety. Rather, responsibility for consumer safety has been delegated to the states who then develop their own regulatory system – if they choose to do so. In some states, a government agency may administer and enforce safety requirements while in other states private organizations or industry groups may be tasked with safety.
In Michigan, fair and carnival safety is overseen by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). LARA administers the Michigan Carnival-Amusement Safety Program which has been in operation since 1966. LARA is in charge of the safety of nearly 900 rides being managed by over 200 different companies. Under the program rides must be inspected after a change in ownership or when alterations to the ride are made. Additionally, so that the public is aware of the risks and concerns presented by fairs and amusement parks, LARA can also provide information to consumers regarding accidents and incidents.
If you have suffered a serious or traumatic injury at a fair, carnival or amusement park, you don’t have to face the insurance company yourself. The experienced amusement park accident attorneys of Reiff & Bily can fight to obtain compensation for your injuries and other damages. For your free and confidential consultation call Reiff & Bily at 800-861-6708 or contact us online.
- Chelsea fair president: Ferris wheel on which children were hurt was inspected before carnival
- Report: Holland man injured in Hudsonville Fair mud truck accident has fractured skull