• May 19, 2017

2 Women, Child Injured in Port Townsend, WA, Ferris Wheel Accident

Port Townsend, WA -- May 18, 2017, two women and a child were injured after an accident where they fell out of a Ferris wheel cart.

Officials from the East Jefferson Fire and Rescue Department were called out to Memorial Field at around 6:00 p.m. The incident occurred at the annual Rhododendron Festival.

According to preliminary reports, a 59-year-old, a 47-year-old, and 7-year-old were inside a cart on the Ferris wheel. For reasons which were not made clear, the cart tipped over and ejected the three occupants onto the metal flooring below.

One of the women took most of the fall, with the other two falling on top of her. That woman, the 59-year-old, required air transportation to Harborview Medical Center. Her injuries were said to be critical, including a severe head wound. The other two victims were transported to local hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.

Authorities did not say what factors caused the accident to occur. Investigations are ongoing.

Map of the Area

Commentary

To put things bluntly, carnivals such as this do not have enough safety oversight. As a result of tragedies in recent years, such as the woman who fell from a Six Flags ride here in Texas and the young boy killed on a water slide in Kansas, people have been calling for more stringent safety regulations for theme and amusement park rides. While this is welcome scrutiny for those of us who advocate for greater safety in the public space, those regulations are only really effective against permanent amusement parks. Holding fly-by-night carnival contractors up to code is a much more difficult endeavor.

It's one thing to go to an established park overseen by an organization with a corporate headquarters and ensure they're adhering to safety regulations. It's another thing entirely to keep up with a business that is transient, popping up one place one day and another place on another day. As such, ensuring the rides at these kinds of carnivals are up to code and run safely can prove challenging, and accidents like this can happen as a result.

The bottom line is that while efforts are being made to make more established businesses safer, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to oversee these smaller, mobile businesses. The longer it takes for safety regulations to become more strict and better enforced, the more time there will be for accidents like this to continue happening.

--Grossman Law Offices

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