According to police reports and eyewitness reports in local news media, yet another troubling accident occurred at a local fair near Memphis last weekend. Much to the chagrin of parents, caregivers and safety advocates the summer of 2016 has been marked by what seems like an unusually high number of ride accidents and other problems. Some of these accidents have produced life-altering injuries like traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and broken bones while other have produced a minor injuries like cuts, scrapes, and abrasions. However, all ride malfunctions are potentially harrowing experience that can have a profound mental impact regardless of the physical injuries that may or may not result. In many cases, these mental and physical injuries are inflicted on young children who may contend with these injuries for years or decades.
At least 14 fair-goers at the Delta Fair were subjected to a horrifying ride malfunction on Saturday, September 3, 2016. While it appears that injuries sustained due to the ride malfunction were minimal, no amusement park or carnival guest should ever have an experience of this type.
How Did the Carnival Ride Malfunction Occur?
The Moonraker ride is probably one of the more adventurous ride offerings at most carnivals. The ride spins at relatively high speeds while varying the angle and elevation of the ride. If you have ever ridden a ride known as, The Gravitron, this ride is similar with some variations. For many individuals, a ride of this type can seem thrilling and safe at the same time. Unfortunately, the events that transpired at the fair are likely to make fair-goers reconsider this assumption.
To be clear, there is still some dispute over what exactly transpired at the fairgrounds due to the ride malfunction. The characterization of the events differs significantly depending on who is providing the details. According to a Facebook post made by the ride operators:
“We did have a ride, the Moonraker, that had the lap bar released early as the ride was slowing to an end. The release of the lap bar did cause some riders to become nervous and scared. None of the riders were injured and all walked away safely. As a precautionary measure we had the riders checked out by our on-site EMS services and then had the riders at their request sent to the Hospital for strictly precautionary reasons.”
However, a police report filed by the Shelby County Police seemed to indicate that at least several riders were “thrown” from the ride. Reports on social media posted by riders and eyewitnesses also seemed to suggest that the incident was more frightening for guests than the ride operator’s statement acknowledged. According to one rider of the Moonraker, “We were still in the air, and it was still going when our things (belts) came off, and it was to the side, and I was trying to hold on, but I couldn’t so I fell to the side.” Another rider was blunter in her assessment of the situation stating that, “We could’ve died.”
One fair guest disputes the notion that no serious injuries were reported and the characterization of events. According to Shawn Owens whose two children and 11-year old niece were on the ride, “I’ve got one in the hospital banged-up beyond belief.” Owens also seemed to indicate that at least one of his children had fallen 30 feet, that his niece had a broken ankle, and that fair officials attempted to have her “walk it off.”
While these allegations are still unconfirmed, an investigation into the accident is likely to shed more light on the events that transpired. Investigators currently attribute the accident to operator error and believe that the operator inadvertently hit the release button. However, questions remain as to why this button was active and why safety restraints were able to be released while the ride was in motion.
Contact an Amusement Park Injury Lawyer If You Were Hurt on a Fair or Carnival Ride
If you have suffered serious injury due to ride operator negligence at a fair or carnival, the personal injury lawyers of Reiff & Bily may be able to fight for you. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call our legal team at 800-861-6708 today.