Parents question fair ride safety following Raleigh fair ride ax - WNCT

Parents question fair ride safety following Raleigh fair ride accident

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NEW BERN, N.C. -

Autumn is in full swing, and that means it's fair season here in the East. The Coastal Carolina Agricultural Fair is happening this weekend in Craven County.

After the fair accident in Raleigh, in which five people were hurt, some of them critically, while trying to exit the Vortex ride, 9 On Your Side wanted to know whether that's had any effect on people going to local fairs.

"I don't want anything to happen to my children," said Stanley Ruffin, a New Bern visitor with four children.

Some parents, like Ruffin, say the accident in Raleigh makes them more cautious about which rides they lets their children on.

"It seems like everybody can go out and get a machine that will allow someone to ride it. But I wonder how are the safety issues regulated?" he said.

To get the answer, 9 On Your Side reached out to Tommy Petty, bureau chief at the North Carolina Department of Labor, the agency that allows amusement park companies to operate rides. He says the state inspects all rides before allowing them to take passengers.

"Every nut, bolt, washer, screw, anything dealing with the mechanics of that ride or the erection or construction of that ride is examined," said Petty.

At that point, it's up to the amusement park company to document daily inspections of each ride.

At some point during fairs like the Coastal Carolina Ag Fair, Petty says state inspectors show up by surprise to make sure operators are paying attention and operating the rides safely.

"If they find anybody not doing that, it's reported to the owner, and if it's a serious enough violation, then they are removed from the ride," said Petty.

Petty says state inspectors must have five years of experience working with elevators before they're allowed to inspect. He says elevators are similar to rides. Those who start out with no experience in amusement park rides must go through a 4,000 hour inspection program under the supervision of a more experienced inspector.

"With that information, it's good to know, I feel a little safer now taking my kids on the various rides," said Petty.

While the safety measures offer some comfort, the accident in Raleigh proves there's always risk going on a fair ride.

Petty says the state labor department inspected 7,000 amusement rides last year.

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