RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Five people were injured on a carnival ride known for its wild twirls and flips at the North Carolina State Fair, and officials were trying to determine Friday exactly what caused the accident.
Two people remained hospitalized in critical condition after the "Vortex" started up again as riders were getting off late Thursday evening, officials said. Three other people sustained less serious injuries.
Among the possible causes for the accident that investigators will be reviewing is a safety switch that malfunctioned on the ride Monday, according to Tom Chambers, the chief of the ride inspection unit at the state Labor Department. The ride was temporarily idled as workers replaced the switch, Chambers said. It reopened Monday night after being tested.
Two of the injured remained hospitalized in critical condition, Chambers told a news conference. He would not discuss their injuries or give their names, although he said that the ride's operator was not injured. At the time of the malfunction, the operator was at the controls and the attendant was helping people off, he said.
State agricultural commissioner Steve Troxler, whose agency runs the fair, said he remains confident in the safety of the rides. He stressed that the accident was "an isolated incident."
"Safety is something we take very seriously," he said. "We are all shaken by this."
Kelly Deis, a spokeswoman for WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, said earlier that two people were treated and released from the facility. She did not give out further information.
The injured riders ranged in age from 14 to 39, Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison told a news conference.
The "Vortex" spins, twirls and flips passengers upside down. Long said the ride would undergo inspection by the state Department of Labor, and that the sheriff's office would also conduct its own investigation and look for witnesses.
Powers Great American Midway is a carnival company that manages the rides. The owner, Les Powers, told The Associated Press on Friday he didn't know what caused the accident.
"Nobody wants this to happen, and we're trying to find out why this did happen. Until I find out any information, I can't even give you a clue," Powers said.