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5 injured in incident at NC State Fair

Posted: Updated:
RALEIGH, N.C. -

Five people were injured during an accident at the North Carolina State Fair Thursday night and two have since been released from the hospital, according to officials.

Two of the five injured sustained serious injuries after an incident on the Vortex ride behind the Expo Center, officials said.

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said the victims are between the ages of 14 and 39. Harrison confirmed some of the victims are family members. One of the injured was a ride operator, Harrison said.

Harrison asked for any cellphone video of the accident to be given to authorities.

"The ride had stopped and they were fixing to offload when it started off again. That is preliminary report," Harrison said.

An EMS source told WNCN five passengers were ejected while attempting to exit the ride. The EMS source said all five were initially unconscious but three regained consciousness.

One of the injured suffered serious head injuries. Another victim had injuries similar to a concussion, according the EMS source.

Brian Long, public affairs director with the State Fair, said the ride is located between gates 4 and 5 on the lower midway.

Long said an ambulance was on scene within a minute of the first call just after 9 p.m. Long said all five victims were transported to WakeMed by 9:37 p.m.

"This has shaken all of us," Long said. "We definitely have these folks in our thoughts and prayers."

The N.C. Department of Labor will inspect the ride and the Sheriff's Office will investigate the incident, Long said.

Richard Gephart heard the accident while on the Midway. 

"It just sound like a bunch of stuff hitting metal. And that was it. There was no screaming," he said.

Witness Caleb Norris told WNCN he heard a crashing sound just after exiting the Vortex ride. Norris said he turned around and saw two people lying face down.

Norris also said he saw the ride operator fall to his knees and start crying.

The Vortex ride was manufactured by Technical Park International of Italy. Fair officials said this is the first time this Vortex ride has been at the N.C. State Fair.

There are two Vortex rides on the Fairgrounds while the other Vortex, located on the new Midway, has been on site for many years and is manufactured by Fabbri of Italy, the State Fair confirmed. Brian Long, the spokesman for the State Department of Agriculture, said the two Vortex rides are completely different although they have the same name.

The Fair will operate on its normal schedule Friday, officials said.

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