Fairs and carnivals are classic activities for a hot August weekend with friends and family. Perhaps part the appeal is that it seems a fair has something for everyone: rides and animals for the kids and teens while adults may be entertained by the many vendors and food stands. In short, carnivals have developed a reputation for good, clean family fun. However, even events and places that are typically safe can, under certain circumstances, become dangerous and present a significant likelihood of injury.
Over the weekend, there were two separate incidents at fairs in Michigan. In the first, that occurred last Friday evening, two children fell from a Ferris wheel at the Chelsea Community Fair. In a second distinct incident at a Michigan fair, there was an accident involving a member of the mud run pit crew.
2 Children fall from Ferris wheel and Sustain Critical Injuries
North American Midway Entertainment, has confirmed through a press release that an incident occurred on the Century Wheel, or Ferris Wheel, on Thursday, August 21st, 2014. North American Midway states that while the exact cause of the incident is unclear, it was not due to a malfunction or undesired operation. The company claims that the ride was not damaged before or during the incident. Furthermore, the company has stated that the ride was inspected by state regulators following the accident and it was deemed safe to re-open for Friday.
Authorities have advanced the idea that one the children’s crutches may have played a role in the accident. One eyewitness who discussed the accident with mlive.com states that at about 8:20 p.m. he noticed that two Ferris wheel cabs had become caught on another. Initial reports state that the crutches may have become hooked or lodged on the other car. The eyewitness, Alex Keszler, said that as the wheel continues to rotate the car that the two children were in tipped forward. When the car reached the 4 o’clock position the Ferris wheel car tipped and dumped the children into the air. The two children fell about 15 feet before hitting the ground.
Moments later onlookers found two siblings, a 16-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy, on the ground near the base of the ride. The girl landed on the ride platform and, at first, was not moving. The boy fell on to the ground and was bleeding but conscious. Both children were rushed to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital where both children were listed as in critical but stable condition. As of Saturday afternoon, the boy had been released from the hospital but his sister was still being held for observation.
Man Hit by Truck at Hudsonville Community Fair Attraction
In another incident at a second Michigan Fair, a man was hospitalized after being hit by a truck at the Mud Race pit. This accident also occurred at about 8:30 p.m. also on Thursday, August 21st. The incident occurred when one of the mud pit vehicles lurched forward after being started. The man was transported to Spectrum Health Butterworth hospital where he was listed in critical condition. The man suffered a traumatic brain injury as his skull was fractured during the accident.
In a cruel twist that perhaps illustrates that reality can sometimes be stranger than fiction, this accident also involved siblings. However in this instance, and tragically, the brother was the driver who caused the catastrophic injury.
Fairs and Carnivals are Regulated By a Patchwork of Standards and Regulations
As has been discussed on this blog in the past, there is no national standard for safety for carnivals, amusement parks, and fairs. Rather, patrons rely on a patchwork of industry, state, and local regulations for their safety. What this means is that the level of safety and regulation can vary significantly from state to state. While in some states, government licensing board may perform inspections, in other states this task may be left to a private company. In some states, the safety procedures and inspections are not known because there are no reporting requirements.
According to a 2013 study by USA Today, all carnival and fair operation oversight in Michigan is performed by state or local officials. This oversight falls to the Michigan Carnival-Amusement Safety Program which has been in operation since 1966 and is administered by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) in Michigan. LARA currently oversees over 200 carnival companies and almost 900 rides. LARA inspects rides after alterations or a transfer, requires reports after an incident, and provides consumers with information regarding enforcement and disciplinary actions.
If you have been injured in an amusement park accident, you may be able to obtain compensation for your injuries and other damages. Contact an experienced amusement park accident attorney, like the lawyers of The Reiff Law Firm, today. For your free and confidential consultation call us at (215) 246-9000 or contact us online.