Ride Mishap Injures 5 At NC State Fair

Oct 25, 2013

Credit NC State Fair

Police say it was an apparent malfunction that led to five injuries on a ride at the North Carolina State Fair.

The incident happened Thursday night shortly after 9 p.m. on a ride called The Vortex.

"We have been told that the ride had stopped and they were unloading, and all of the sudden, the ride started up again," said Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison in a press conference Friday morning.

Harrison said that report is preliminary and investigators are still looking into exactly what caused the accident.

The Vortex spins passengers around a mechanical arm while rotating them upside down.  It's not yet clear how the ride restarted.

Four people on the ride were hurt as well as the operator. Two people were critically injured, and all five were taken to WakeMed Hospital.  Police did not release their names and conditions Friday morning.

Inspectors say the ride had a clean safety record.  Tom Chambers of the North Carolina Department of Labor said records only show there was a complaint filed Monday that led to the replacement of a faulty seat switch.

"It locks the person in the seat," Chambers said. "They repaired it. We checked it. The ride went back into operation."

Chambers and other authorities would not say whether that was linked to Thursday's incident.

Authorities have asked anyone who may have filmed it to share the footage with them. Harrison said his deputies are trying to meet with at least one person who might have video.

The fair is open, but the ride has been closed while police continue their investigation.