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Investigation Continues Into State Fair Ride Mishap

Technical Park International

State Fair organizers are continuing their investigation into why a thrill ride malfunctioned injuring five people.  Fair-goers won't be able to ride "The Vortex" this final weekend of the 2013 fair.  The ride revved up again unexpectedly after it was stopped to let people off Thursday night. Two of the five people were said to be critically hurt.  

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison is leading the accident investigation.  He says they are starting with the possibility that this could have been a deliberate act.

“We treat every investigation as a criminal investigation..and that’s still what we’re looking at at this time," Harrison says.  "We have a lot of witnesses to talk to as we have been doing so since Thursday night.”

The fair's chief ride inspector Tom Chambers says in this is the first appearance of "The Vortex" at the North Carolina State Fair. He says one other glitch was reported last Monday.

"The sheriffs observed the ride was down and they were working on it," Chambers explained.  "They dispatched our inspectors out there and it turned out to be a switch that was bad."

That switch operates the bar that holds riders in place.  Organizers say they believe the accident is isolated and should not impact midway crowds this weekend.

Gurnal Scott joined North Carolina Public Radio in March 2012 after several stops in radio and television. After graduating from the College of Charleston in his South Carolina hometown, he began his career in radio there. He started as a sports reporter at News/Talk Radio WTMA and won five Sportscaster of the Year awards. In 1997, Gurnal moved on to television as general assignment reporter and weekend anchor for WCSC-TV in Charleston. He anchored the market's top-rated weekend newscasts until leaving Charleston for Memphis, TN in 2002. Gurnal worked at WPTY-TV for two years before returning to his roots in radio. He joined the staff of Memphis' NewsRadio 600 WREC in 2004 eventually rising to News Director. In 2006, Raleigh news radio station WPTF came calling and he became the station's chief correspondent. Gurnal’s reporting has been honored by the South Carolina Broadcasters Association, the North Carolina Associated Press, and the Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas.
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