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5 injured at state fair midway

The North Carolina State Fair was the site of a carnival ride accident that caused at least five people personal injury, according to news reports from Raleigh. The victims in the Oct. 24 accident were injured when a ride at the fair's midway malfunctioned, sending them plummeting to the ground as they were attempting to disembark from the attraction. The ride, known as the Vortex, remains shut down until a pending investigation is complete.

Witnesses told authorities that they saw several people plunge at least 20 feet to the ground. Those victims, ages 14 to 39, suffered varying degrees of injury, though one person remains hospitalized at this time. The ride operator was also injured in the accident. Bystanders said they saw the ride activate as people were attempting to leave the attraction. As a result, the victims were tipped up and out of their seats when the ride started. Witnesses recount in harrowing detail the noises of bodies hitting the metal platform. Callers to 911 described a disturbing scene with bleeding, unconscious victims.

One of the men who witnessed the accident said he also saw ride operators attempting to fix harnesses on the machine shortly before the accident. The harnesses on one side of the ride were not properly engaging, and the operators spent about 10 minutes attempting a makeshift fix. That witness noticed the problem about 30 minutes before the injurious accident.

The Vortex consists of a central arm that extends to two clusters of rider bays. As the ride begins to spin, these clusters are propelled into the air, allowing the ride to flip, spin and twirl passengers. This particular ride had experienced safety problems earlier in the week, according to inspectors, who found that a safety switch had malfunctioned. The ride resumed operation after a repair on Oct. 21. Investigators say they are still determining whether that particular safety switch was to blame for the most recent accident.

Victims who have been harmed while using carnival rides may be able to recover financial damages for their injuries. This money, which can be provided by the ride operator and the organization hosting the fair, can be used to pay for medical bills, lost wages and a variety of other costs.

www.wral.com, "'The ride turned upside down and dumped everybody out'" Cullen Browder, Arielle Clay, Brian Shrader & Tara Lynn, Oct. 25, 2013

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