NORWALK, Conn. — Investigators are dismantling a circular swing ride that failed during a summer oyster festival in Southern Connecticut Sunday in an effort to understand why the ride stopped abruptly, sending the riders hurtling into each other and injuring 18 riders.
The “Zumur” ride, which consists of swings suspended from arms that raise and spin, was one of the featured ride attractions at Norwalk’s annual Oyster Festival. Connecticut State Troopers investigating Sunday’s incident say that some kind of mechanical malfunction in the drive system seems to have occurred while the ride was in operation.
Stewart Amusement Co. bought the Zumur ride new in 1983 and has been using it in fairs throughout the New York-Connecticut border area for decades. The company’s owner, Richard Stewart, said his company has never experienced a malfunction-related injury on the ride until Sunday. Federal and State data show the company itself has no history of safety violations.
Officials at Chance Rides Inc. of Wichita, Kansas (formerly Chance Manufacturing Co. Inc.), may take part in the ride dismantling operation, the Associated Press reported. The company stopped making the Zumur ride in the mid-1980s.
One festival attendee who was waiting for his children to exit an adjacent ride told the Associated Press that he heard “large clanks and saw the swings crashing into the center of the ride.”
All but one of the 18 people injured on the ride were children. Twelve riders were taken to local hospitals for treatment and all were released later in the day except for one 8-year-old boy who suffered from non-life-threatening rib injuries. Five of the 23 riders refused treatment at the scene.
Collisions between the riders and parts of the ride caused all of the injuries. No riders were ejected or fell from the ride, investigators said.
Stewart Amusement says on its website that company staff inspects the rides every day. Additionally, the rides are inspected by state and local inspectors every week and by engineers and insurance inspectors every year.
The nonprofit Norwalk Seaport Association, which organizes the annual oyster festival, closed down the festival’s rides for a complete inspection Sunday, but reopened them for the final hours of the three-day festival.