Ride malfunction at Delta Fair causes injuries, panic
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A malfunction of a ride at the Delta Fair caused panic and several injuries on Saturday.
Shelby County Sheriff's Office officials originally said 14 people were thrown from the Moonraker while the ride was moving. They later retracted, saying nobody was thrown.
Officials said a computer operating the ride detected a malfunction and stopped the ride. The operator then made a mistake, pressing the button to release the safety belts.
Delta Fair officials, however, said there were no injuries and no one was thrown:
Officials later said eight people were taken to the hospital as a precaution, including the operator of the ride, who is believed to have had a panic attack.
"We were still in the air, and it was still going when our things (belts) came off, and it was to the side," Anna Jordan said. "And I was trying to hold on, but I couldn't, so I fell to the side."
Anna said she has pain in her ankle, head, neck, and leg, but she did not suffer any major injuries after falling.
"I was really scared," Jordan said. "I didn't know what to do. I thought we were just coming to the fair to come and have fun, and this happened out of nowhere."
Fair officials are calling it a minor incident with minor injuries, but people on the ride at the time said it was a terrifying experience with people hanging from their seats and hanging on for their lives.
"We were afraid and scared; we didn't come to the fair to do that," 13-year-old Hannah Romine said.
The ride was stuck 30 feet in the air.
"We were all the way in the air and it was turned like this and I was at the very top," Hannah said.
There may be several people with broken bones, according to witnesses, but fair officials said that is not the case.
"That's just crazy. That's just totally, totally not true," Lovell said. "No one fell from the ride. Once the ride stopped, everyone walked away from the ride."
While many riders were able to walk away unharmed, others ended up in the emergency room.
Shane Manseau said he is thankful to be alive after he and his friends were stuck on the ride.
"I don't know what to say," Manseau said. "God was watching over me. I'm glad for that; I'm very thankful for that."
Manseau and his friend Cody Green said just one minute into the ride, it slowed down. After that, the safety harnesses released, causing him to fall toward the safety rail.
"When you're facing down in the seat, and that safety hatch comes up, you're going to fall forward," Manseau said. "But they had a railing around the middle, and that's what they hit is that railing."
Green said he rushed to his friends, working to calm them down. He said they had injuries to their chest and fingers.
"I'm just happy that they're okay right now," Green said.
Matt Snyder, the director of safety at the fair said the ride is inspected several times every day and passed those safety inspections. He said none of this would have happened if the operator hadn't pushed the wrong button.
"This ride did what it was designed to do," Snyder said. "It went into safety mode and brought it down. Unfortunately, human error happens."
No matter the cause, riders said they'll never trust another fair ride again after what happened to them.
"I'm really thankful," Hannah said. "I'm only 13, so it would be hard for my parents and my family if they lost me today. But I guess it just wasn't my time."
Green and his friends also have no plans to return to the fair.
"No, not anytime soon," Green said. "I mean, maybe next year, we'll see. But on the other hand, not any time right now."
The ride will be shut down until an independent inspector can come inspect the ride. They will also change out the manual override switch.
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