Five people were rushed to the hospital and three remain hospitalized a day after a thrill ride at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh went haywire and began moving as riders were exiting. The ride, called the Vortex, is a pendulum ride that moves upwards as it flips passengers upside down.
“There were actually some people that were still, I think, strapped in and holding on, really hanging on for their lives. But they were falling like raindrops. It was really crazy,” 13-year-old Max Byrn told ABC News Radio.
The teenager said he had just gotten off the ride when he heard screaming and turned around to see the ride upside down and people falling. He said one person landed head first on the ground and “was completely knocked unconscious.” Another witness said he saw at least three people lying unresponsive on the ground after they fell.
“People were screaming and a lot of people were in pain,” Max said. “Family members actually ran away, like they couldn’t bear to look at it. They were dropping about 30 feet high up in the air.”
Officials did not say what injuries the victims suffered. However they did say some of the victims were related. The ride operator was also among the injured.
The Vortex is supposed to be inspected three times a year for safety during the fair, the North Carolina Labor Department said. Officials say they will be looking at the diagnostics and safety systems in place that evening to determine if the cause was due to malfunctioning of the ride.
The Vortex is made by Technical Park International of Italy. This is the first time the ride has been at the North Carolina fair. It is one of two Vortex rides on the fairgrounds. The other, manufactured by Fabbri of Italy, has been on the site for many years.
Source: ABC News