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Inspectors investigate carnival accident at Lehigh Spring Festival


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Inspectors investigate carnival accident at Lehigh Spring Festival

By Fox 4 News Staff. CREATED Mar 20, 2013

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. - "I was traumatized last night," said Shane Thornewell, of Cape Coral. "It was pretty shocking."

Thornewell's cell phone video captured the Ring of Fire moments after it came to a sudden halt on Tuesday night.

"I just saw a lot of light bulbs things flying off the ride," described Thornewell. "The ride started shaking and i heard a God-awful scream."

Among the five injured, investigators say a 12-year-old girl suffered a cut above her eye and cheek," according to the Florida Department of Agriculture. Thornewell pointed her out, too, in the video he captured.

"I recorded the girl coming off holding her face," said Thornewell. "I heard her screaming holding her face."

On Tuesday the ride was closed, as inspectors worked to find out why it malfunctioned.

"They're examining the rods, the structure and taking photographs," said Allan Harrison, the bureau chief of the Bureau of Fair Rides, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture.

Officials say this was the first accident on the Ring of Fire in Florida. But so far this year, inspectors have shut down the Modern Midways ride once. It happened during a routine inspection on January 25, when oil was found leaking from the ride at a Gulf Coast Town Center fair. That problem was fixed and the ride re-opened on February 1.

"We look to see if there's any structural, mechanical defects," added Harrison, on how inspectors check rides.

But for Thornewell, whose nephews were on the very same ride minutes before, "That's all that kept going through my mind is, 'Thank God they weren't on that ride,' because I probably wouldn't be good today," he said.

After just moving here, It was an ordeal Thornewell wasn't quite expecting. "I probably would have moved back to New Jersey today," he reflected.

Inspectors say it could take weeks until the investigation is complete. They say if deficiencies are found Modern Midways could face a maximum of $2,500 per violation