Five people were injured on Thursday night on the Vortex thrill ride at the North Carolina State Fair. According to officials, the ride started back up as riders were trying to exit. Of the five people injured, three are still hospitalized and two are in serious condition. The ages of the injured range from 14 to 39 years old.
"The ride had stopped and they were fixing to offload when it started off again. That is preliminary report," Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said. The police are looking for anyone who has cell phone footage of the accident to come forward so they can determine exactly what went wrong. Harrison says they are treating the investigation as a criminal investigation for the time being.
Check out a video of a Vortex ride taken a few months ago to get an idea of how the ride works:
Some witnesses said they saw passengers struggling to hold on while the ride started back up. "There were actually some people that were still, I think, strapped in and holding on, really hanging on for their lives," Max Byrn, 13, told ABC News Radio. "But they were falling like raindrops. It was really crazy."
Witness Jonathan Stanley said that he heard the accident, which sounded like "baseballs hitting an aluminum floor." Stanley says he ran over to the ride and saw the bodies. "I mean, I was right at the fence. There was one guy in particular; he was all the way back against the back of the ride. It looked as if he had flown out and maybe hit it and then maybe came down face first."
It will take some time to determine whether the ride malfunctioned or if the Vortex ride operator made a mistake. Fair officials said that the Vortex ride had some issues on Monday night. There was a report of a bad switch that locks passengers into the seat, but officials said the problem was repaired. According to Delores Quesenberry, director of communications for the state Department of Labor, all of the rides at the North Carolina State Fair are inspected three times per day.
There are two Vortex rides at the North Carolina State Fair, and the ride that had the issue will be shut down indefinitely. The NC State Fair will remain open while the investigation continues.
Around 2,000 people are injured on average on carnival park rides (or mobile rides) each year. Will the news of the injuries on the Vortex ride at the North Carolina State Fair keep you from riding? Respond below.
There was an accident at the NC state fair. That is why I don't ride rides. I do not trust those things or the operators. Hope they're okay.
— Jennifer (@teenytinyJenni) October 25, 2013
I don't even want to ride rides no more after that accident at the fair
— DopePrincess (@_BeautyItIS) October 25, 2013
[Images via YouTube]
My prayers go out to everyone that was in the accident at the state fair last night
— That Softball Babe ⚾ (@softballlbabe) October 25, 2013