The first Ferris-wheel was conceived of and designed by Pittsburgh native George W. Ferris in the late 19th century. The original Ferris Wheel was constructed for the 1893 World’s Fair held in Chicago and was intended to memorialize the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. By November 1893, when the original wheel initially closed, over 1 million people had ridden the Ferris Wheel and reports of its then-unprecedented height and grandeur began to circulate through the country. These accounts of the World’s Fair Ferris wheel undoubtedly contributed to the popularity similar rides still enjoy to this day.
Why Do Ferris Wheel Accidents Occur?
The reasons for ride accidents are numerous. In some situations, a single point of failure may cause the accident, however, in many others multiple factors contribute to the accident. Some of these reasons for accidents and severe injuries include:
- Mechanical defect – Mechanical failure or mechanical defects can cause a ride to fail, operate in a way that is unexpected, or cause injuries due to falling debris. Accidents of this type can be prevented by frequent inspections and routine maintenance.
- Design defects – Design defects can also cause the ride to fail or result in serious injuries. Design defects can cause a car to tip over or expose riders to excessive forces.
- Operator error – Error by an operator or by operators can result in injury to riders if safety restraints are not properly secured or riders are still boarding or exiting when the ride starts to move.
- Actions by rider – Riders may engage in horseplay by rocking the car or take other actions that endanger themselves or other guests.
The foregoing are only a few of the reasons why accidents can occur on a Ferris wheel. Unfortunately, the vectors of injury are only limited by the actions of the people who utilize or run the ride or attraction.
Recent Ferris Wheel Accidents
While Ferris wheels are ridden safely by thousands, if not millions, of people each and every year, accidents can happen. While every accident is the product of its own unique circumstances, we can learn from past events so that the same mistakes are not repeated. A selection of recent accidents involving Ferris wheels includes:
- Chelsea, Michigan (2014) – At the Chelsea Fair 2 siblings, a 16-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy, fell from the car they were riding in. Officials believe that the crutches carried by one of the siblings became lodged in the Ferris wheel causing the sibling’s car to tip.
- Wildwood, New Jersey (2011) – An 11-year-old girl fell approximately 100 feet to her death at the Wildwood boardwalk.
- West Valley City, Utah (2010) – This injury didn’t occur to the patron, but rather to workers who were disassembling the Ferris wheel. One worker became pinned between a rail and drive wheels.
- Dayton Ohio, (2007) – A 3-year-old boy fell nearly 25 feet and suffered a fractured skull. The cause of the accident was unclear and the investigation was assigned to the Department of Agriculture in Ohio.
Unfortunately, the accidents described above are only but a few of the accidents that have occurred on Ferris wheels at amusement parks, fairs and carnivals. If you have suffered a serious injury due to the negligence, carelessness, or recklessness of another, The Reiff Law Firm may be able to fight for you. For your free and confidential Ferris wheel injury consultation, call (215) 709-6940 or contact us online.