Fair ride operator struck in head by swing ride

Posted Wednesday, August 18, 2010 12:19 PM | Contributed by Vater

A video from the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair in Maryland shows a ride operator hopping the fence in an attempt to move a fence out of the way of the oncoming passengers, but instead a swing hits him in the head, knocking him to the ground.

Read more and see video from WTTG/Washington, DC.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010 12:24 PM

Well, at least it's not another, "he wasn't going for a hat" story. Also, it sounds like the guys will be ok.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010 2:15 PM

At least he was trying to help, and not going after a "hat"! But I would think an e-stop* and staying out of the way of the swings would have been the better move.
As they tell us at Kalahari (lifeguard) it's you, your buddy, then the victim. If your injured or disabled then who is there to help the guests?

* Looking at the video it seems that the ride was stopping so someone at some time probably hit the e-stop.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010 2:31 PM

A ride with things swingy freely would be a hard thing to stop in a hurry, I would think. Cutting power and letting it gradually stop is one thing, but you can't really brake it because the swings will start moving forward and back and knock into each other if you do it too hard.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010 2:33 PM

Jeff said:
things swingy freely

That's my Native American name.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010 2:52 PM

You're on a roll today, Vater. Or muffin, as the case might be. ;)

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010 3:26 PM

Vater said:

That's my Native American name.

Bazinga!

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010 3:47 PM

^ And that's your tribal name, Raven?

The story said that a boy was also injured because his foot clipped the section of fence that the man was trying to move, and that the ride apparently should not have been moving so quickly at that elevation.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010 3:53 PM

^Yes, like other rides of this type (Wave Swingers for instance), the ride should slow down so that riders lose outward (centripetal?) momentum and swing closer and closer to the support column. Then the lowering can happen safely - this ride lowered while the rotational velocity was still quite high, so the outward swinging of the riders put them in proximity to the fence that they should have been well clear of (on the inside).

As for "why not move the fences from OUTSIDE the ride area" (pulling them away from the center column instead of going into the restricted area and pushing the fences outward)....no clue on that one.

Last edited by rollergator, Wednesday, August 18, 2010 3:54 PM
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010 4:29 PM

^Precisely what I was thinking, gator--why did they not just stay outside the fences and pull them out of the way? But, I just chalked that up to panic and adrenaline in the moment. I'd like to think I'd take the logical action, but I can't say what I'd actually do in that situation. I've done some pretty boneheaded things before without thinking.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010 4:34 PM

^Definitely. Panic and reason are not the best of friends.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010 4:43 PM

It looks like they were trying to lay the fences down, rather than pull them out of the way. But still, it would be easier and safer to do from outside where you're not turning your back to the moving swings. There weren't a lot of people standing around there either, but it looks like they just thought instead of going around these 4 girls to the left, I'll go over the fence to the right. More reflex than thought.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010 10:01 PM

The question I have is, why was the fence set that close to begin with? Had the fence been pushed in by crowds or whatever, or was it actually set too close?

Most swing rides have their fences set based on the maximum operating diameter, and I think that was the case for a ride like this one at the I-X Center this year, where space is at a bit of a premium. Someone suggested to me that the ride was designed to stop high and then lower into the perimeter, but that just doesn't sound like a safe way to run a swing ride.

Never mind whatever it is that went wrong with the ride. It appears that the ride malfunctioned and responded with a controlled, normal ride stop. So the ride failed safe, but crashed into the safety equipment. Go figure.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010 12:36 AM

I'm wondering how the fence got moved into the ride area. The injured man acted heroically, nonetheless. Kudos to him. I'm glad he's all right.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010 10:59 AM

I don't think the fence was moved into the ride area. I think the ride was spinning at a speed too fast for being as low as it was. That's the gist I got from the video, anyway.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010 11:43 AM

Vater, I think that was the point of Dave saying the following:

RideMan said:
Most swing rides have their fences set based on the maximum operating diameter, and I think that was the case for a ride like this one at the I-X Center this year, where space is at a bit of a premium.

The idea I get is that, in the interest of safety, you should protect against this happening by placing the fencing in a way that *even if* the ride lowers prematurely, the swing diameter would be less than that of the fence...

Yes, it was a malfunction - but one that wouldn't have caused any issues at all had the fence been erected/kept at a proper distance from where the ride COULD have been swinging...

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Thursday, August 19, 2010 12:09 PM

Thanks gator, I completely overlooked that part of Dave's post.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010 12:13 PM

Vater, so do you think that maybe a rider, or the ride, struck the fence, and it fell into the ride area? I could see that happening. That makes the most sense, especially after I reread Rideman's last post again.

The video cuts out before the accident. It begins recording again after the fence has already fallen. I'd love to see what happened before that.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010 12:37 PM

That's what it looks like to me...like the fence was too close, and a rider knocked it over.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010 12:59 PM

FYI, I went to look at the video again, and there is different footage than what was originally shown. It's more detailed and shows more of the accident aftermath. Looks like several sections of fence were knocked down. I'd say at least 1/6 of the circumference, 3 sections for sure.

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