Rides at the North Carolina State Fair are supposed to provide unique, thrilling and fun experiences. While riders are suspended in mid-air, they are ultimately supposed to return to earth safe and sound. Unfortunately, five people at the fair were injured when a ride they were boarding suddenly started without warning.
According to an ABC News.com report, the ride called “The Vortex”, started while fairgoers were still being strapped into safety harnesses. One witness described how people just getting on the ride were catapulted from their seats onto the metal floor below the ride. Others were desperately holding on before the ride was shut down.
The incident has the ominous makings of criminal charges as well as civil suits. ABC News.com reports that the ride experienced mechanical issues earlier in the week, but those problems were reportedly corrected. Authorities also suspect that the ride was tampered with. The ride’s operator, a 46-year-old man from Georgia was taken into custody and charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon. However, the man’s attorney reports that his client is “devastated” and is sending prayers to the injured parties and their families.
Providers of amusement park rides have a legal duty to ensure that the attractions they set up are in good working order and are safe for patrons. Should they breach this duty, and a patron is injured, they could be held liable, meaning that injured people could seek compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional distress.
It is unknown at this time whether any lawsuits have been initiated.
As for the criminal charges, police have not yet determined a motive for the man’s actions.
Source: ABC News.com, Video shows North Carolina Fair ride moments after it started, injuring five,” Gio Benitez, October 28, 2013