Beware of the State Fair This Season
The Indiana State Fair is an annual event that provides fun-filled attractions for thousands of families, but it also creates safety hazards from amusement rides that malfunction.
Safety at the State Fairgrounds
Each year, millions of families flock to State Fairs across the country to enjoy amusement rides, carnival games, stage performances, farm animals, and tasty treats. In 2019, the Indiana State Fair hosted 878,857 people at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis between August 2nd and August 18th. Although the fair was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, it returned in full swing between August 6th and August 22nd in 2021.
Since it first began in 1852, the Indiana State Fair has attracted millions of adults and children, but safety issues have always lurked in the shadows. In Indianapolis and other cities around the country, State Fairs have been plagued with serious accident reports of injuries and deaths caused by malfunctioning amusement park rides. Accident lawyers have witnessed severe injuries and fatalities caused by:
- Falls from Ferris wheels
- Drownings in water parks
- Head and neck injuries on roller coasters
- Amputations from moving machinery
- Crushed limbs on loading platforms
- Electrocutions from exposed wiring
The majority of such accidents at State Fairs are caused by faulty equipment that malfunctions during a ride. This includes seatbelts that break, lap bars that do not lock, malfunctioning machinery parts, improper lighting equipment, and lack of proper safety rules. Malfunctioning amusement ride equipment is responsible for thousands of severe injuries and deaths each year.
When injuries occur, accident lawyers see a wide range of injuries including cuts and abrasions; fractured and broken limbs; crushed and amputated body parts; damages to internal organs; eye injuries; whiplash; concussions; and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Falls from Ferris wheels and roller coasters often have fatal consequences, and water rides often result in drowning deaths.
Reports of Injuries and Fatalities
There are numerous reports of serious injuries and deaths caused by amusement park rides across the country. Almost every state has reported accidents and injuries resulting in emergency medical care, hospitalizations, and deaths.
In 2010, a 12-year-old girl from Parkland fell 100 feet from the Skycoaster. Landing on her back on the ground she suffered internal injuries, severe spinal and pelvic fractures, and brain damage. This ride allows riders to free-fall onto a safety net, but the net was not in place when the operator released her. The girl was airlifted to Children’s Hospital where she recovered after a two-month stay. Her parents filed a lawsuit with an accident lawyer and the ride operator was charged with negligence.
In 2016, a park employee was injured when he was struck by one of the roller coaster cars while performing maintenance on the ride. He was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment and later recovered from his injuries. He later filed a personal injury lawsuit with an Indiana accident lawyer.
In 2019, a 12-year-old boy suffered a medical emergency while riding on a roller coaster. When the car returned to the loading platform, the boy was unconscious but still breathing. Paramedics performed CPR and rushed him to a local hospital where he later died. A coroner’s report determined that the boy’s death was caused by a pre-existing medical condition that should have prevented him from getting onto the ride.
In 2010, a 21-year-old Lafayette woman fell 30 feet from a roller coaster ride. She was taken to the hospital for emergency medical care but later died from her injuries. Investigators were unable to determine whether the ride’s restraint system malfunctioned or was improperly fastened at the time of the accident. The ride was shut down after the accident
One of the most devastating accidents to make public news occurred at the Ohio State Fair in 2017. Tyrell Jarrell, a local resident, lost his life when a car broke off of a spinning ride, slammed into another car, and then struck the ground. After an extensive investigation, it was determined that the arm of the ride was corroded and that the corrosion directly led to the tragedy.
In 2016, a 68-year-old man working at the State Fair as a seasonal employee fell into a conveyor belt that moved water boats through the station where passengers got on and off the ride. The man suffered a traumatic brain injury from the fall and later fell into a coma. He was taken to a local hospital for emergency treatment but died three days later from his injuries.
Amusement rides at state fairs and carnivals are taken apart when the event is over, transported to the next location, and then reassembled for the next event. Although safety inspections are required prior to use, requirements vary across state lines. This raises many safety concerns about possibilities for accidents and injuries caused by malfunctioning or damaged ride equipment.