Nine hurt in Virginia fair ride collapse

Posted Monday, September 9, 2002 7:23 AM | Contributed by Barry Short

The "Way Out" swing ride at the Powhatan County Fair toppled yesterday during the fair's final hours, injuring nine riders. None of the injuries was considered life-threatening, said Sgt. Chris DeHart of the Powhatan Sheriff's Office.

Read more from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Monday, September 9, 2002 7:53 AM

Yet another reason why I am somewhat reluctant to get on carnival rides...

From reading the article it sounds like these rides aren't inspected every day like permanent attractions are. It's been said before and I'll say it again: if Markey were really concerned with ride safety he'd focus on rides like these instead of permanent parks.


Monday, September 9, 2002 8:08 AM
But carnival rides couldn't possibly have accidents, they are already regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Comission that Markey wants to have regulate parks. ;)

Seriously, the CPSC seems to have done little to alter the overall frequency of accidents on portable rides. In my own experience, I've seen carnivals that I thought were safer than some parks; and I've seen carnivals that scared me.

I'm not familiar with Virginia regs, but in Maryland each carnival ride has to be inspected by a trained and certified state ride inspector after each time it is set up, and it is a pretty good inspection. Daily inspections are by the ride operator just as at amusement parks.

There seems to be a real weakness here in that the inspection was by the county building inspector. County building officials are normally trained to inspect houses and commercial buildings. They are not trained to inspect amusement rides which require considerable specialized knowledge to inspect properly.

The original link didn't work for me. You may want to try this


*** This post was edited by Jim Fisher on 9/9/2002. ***

Monday, September 9, 2002 8:28 AM
I live in richmond, and in the new last night they said that the ride was structurally sound, it just somehow lost its balance. Probably due to imbalanced riders. Give carneys a break; for once, it wasn't their fault
Monday, September 9, 2002 8:34 AM

That probably means that the ride wasn't properly anchored. Remember that the company operating a ride is ultimately responsible for its safe installtion and operation.

There are of course rare incidents of act of god such as the Kennywood storm and more common rider misbehavior.

Monday, September 9, 2002 8:49 AM
No more carnival rides for me.

All I need is 4.5 million bucks and a half a mile long sliver of land and maybe someone could build me my very own Shivering Timbers. ;)

Monday, September 9, 2002 9:27 AM

There have been a lot of accidents on mobile rides this year, that's for sure. Fixed rides are having a very good year on the other hand.

The note about the CPSC oversight sure drives home a point.

Jeff - Webmaster/Admin -,
"Let's stop saying 'don't quote me,' because if no one quotes you, you probably haven't said a thing worth saying." - Dogma, KMFDM

Monday, September 9, 2002 9:59 AM

If a ride "lost it's balance", then it was either improperly installed, or improperly loaded. I know most "swing" type rides don't assign seats, but if you have several heavy adults on one side, and small children on the other, the ride is going to be off balance. This must be accounted for by the carnival operators or set up crew.

I'd rather die living than live like I'm dead

Monday, September 9, 2002 10:11 AM

I heard about it on the news this morning and mentioned something about it in another thread.

This is proof yet again that most of the fairs/carnivals aren't as safe as they should be and it's another reason why I feel safer on the rides at a major park as opposed to those at a carnival or fair.

I don't see how Markey's so called regulation of the theme park industry will make a difference when obviously it didn't make a difference at all in this situation,obviously the ride in question probably wasn't set up or anchored to the ground correctly as Jim Fisher mentioned in his reply.

Monday, September 9, 2002 10:59 AM

Texas Twister at Geauga Lake shifts riders around to keep it balanced. It might be just a precautionary thing.

As Rideman said one time, the operators of the ride are usually the same people that drive around, setup, take down, maintain, and basically live with the ride, so if there is a problem they would know. That is one of the many things Dave said that sticks to mind.


Monday, September 9, 2002 11:41 AM
Sounds like this is the ride in question.

It sounds like it wasn't a ride failure, but rather a problem with the set-up. Well, on that ride, there isn't any set-up to speak of, unless the trailer wasn't levelled properly or wasn't on solid enough ground........but that's all meaningless speculation at this point...

As for why Markey isn't targeting carnival rides: Because carnival rides are already subject to precisely the oversight he's proposing for amusement park rides. Now you see why I'd rather have good State programs?

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Monday, September 9, 2002 12:15 PM
i just saw one of those rides last weekend, looks more like a kiddie ride than an adult ride
Monday, September 9, 2002 3:08 PM
Looking at the large picture in the link that Dave gave us, this ride seems to have a very small footprint and would require some serious anchoring to be stable with any amount of imbalance or in a really high wind, yet the link doesn't mention any need for anchors. If the rides instructions don't call for anchors, I think that it might be enough of a problem to constitute a design flaw.
Monday, September 9, 2002 3:35 PM

"Probably due to imbalanced riders. Give carneys a break; for once, it wasn't their fault"

Then who's fault is it? It most certainly is the carnival operator's fault if the ride was imbalanced... that's part of a normal ride operator's procedure, and if that's the cause, there's no excuse for it except laziness or lack of training.

I would also add that if an imbalance is going to cause your ride to tip, you bought a pile of dung ride. You put 24 people on one side of a Zierer Wave Swinger, and none on the other, it may have some trouble turning (probably not) but it sure as hell ain't gonna fall over.

"When I was growing up, we were taught something called manners. You'd understand that if you weren't such an idiot." - Jack Handey

Monday, September 9, 2002 4:31 PM

All this high-tech analysis is real interesting, but, I would never entrust myself or my family to a ride operator who has less teeth than tattoos.

Monday, September 9, 2002 9:20 PM

I'd look at several things. How the ride was loaded at the time of the accident, and the way the outriggers were blocked. From what I have gathered it had run without incident the entire run of the fair. What was different that night? Had it been raining previously?What was the condition of the ground under the ride? There are a lot of things to consider in a situation like this.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002 6:04 AM
You know, even as a kid, I was never scared to get on any coaster I was able to ride, or even flats, at theme parks, but always feared for my life on anything at the fair and stayed away from a lot of them.
Tuesday, September 10, 2002 1:35 PM
Dutchman and kpjb are right...

I say either the ride structure failed, causing it to fall over, or the blocking was somehow screwed up. Yes, it's a small footprint ride, but it's also not a very large ride, and it's a low speed ride...that trailer ought to be adequate so long as it's levelled properly.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002 5:18 PM

Obviously I would need to do a site investigation to determine the cuase to any real accuracy.

Dave: You keep mentioning the trailer. From what I can see on the website, this is not a conventional trailer mount ride. It has some sort of small trailer set up designed to be pulled by a pickup. The ride rests on 4 jacks while operating. The spread of these jacks looks to be in the range of 10 to 12 feet. This is considerably narrower that the base provided by most trailer mount rides. Thsi would tend to make the ride pretty easy to tip unless it has tie downs.


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