An amusement park ride at the Calaveras County Fair called the Yo-Yo injured 23 people, three of them seriously when its swings collapsed, according to a news article in the Modesto Bee. The large swing-style ride that lifts the swing seats into the air on long chains and spins in circles broke apart injuring a number of children on the ride. 20 children suffered from welts and bruises from road rashes and getting hit by the ride’s equipment and the remaining three children with the most serious injuries were airlifted to area hospitals.
While the ride owner and operator – Midway of Fun, an Oroville-based company, did not talk to the media, officials from the local police department and the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) who investigated the incident told the San Francisco Chronicle that the center hub of the ride, from which its arms extend, stopped rotating or worked intermittently.
Amusement parks are required to have constant inspections of their rides and attractions, as are carnival operators. When carnival ride accidents occur, the injuries are usually quite significant because of the number of people involved and the size and weight of the ride equipment. These rides have the ability crush, pin and eject riders, causing catastrophic injuries. In 2004 alone there were 2,500 amusement ride related injuries reported in the United States, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
We certainly wish the victims of this horrible tragedy a speedy recovery and hope that state officials and investigators do a thorough job of investigating the incident. It is incredible that such accidents continue to occur with all the checks and inspections that are supposedly in place. It will be interesting to see what information the inspection records for the equipment reveals. With summer quickly approaching, carnivals, county fairs and visits to amusement parks are events that families look forward to. Accidents caused by poor maintenance or lack of maintenance however, are an unfortunate reality and the recent incident at the Calaveras County Fair highlights how children are the ones most affected.
Carnival and ride operators should not take their responsibilities lightly. Thousands of families who like to visit and enjoy county fairs every summer count on these ride operators to make their experience safe and fun. If they fail to ensure their customers’ safety because of carelessness or negligence, they must be held responsible for the injuries and losses they have caused.