A fun-filled time for some Kern County fairgoers turned serious Saturday as one of the rides malfunctioned, leaving riders stranded upside down in mid-air.
A platform on the Spin Out ride gave way, causing the ride to dip down and hit a stairway. The ride takes passengers in the air and spins in three different directions. After the accident, riders were left hanging upside down for about eight minutes Saturday.
While no one was hurt, witnesses say the experience was scary. You can hear the panic of the crowd in cell phone video taken by a witness just moments after the ride’s platform gave way.
"All of a sudden we started hearing noises and screeching like metal and the control booth the operator was here and then got hit by the ride and landed on its side," said Jennifer Wood, whose son was on the ride. "People were screaming and kind of frantic, looking around like 'what do we do?'"
Butler Amusements operates the ride and told us the blocking that holds up a platform gave way causing the rid to hit the stairway. Officials say the ride operator and emergency procedures prevented the accident from getting worse.
"He hit the emergency stop which stopped the ride immediately but it stopped the ride upside down and then there's emergency systems on the ride that spins the ride around and let's the riders off. So everything operated the way it was supposed to operate," said Lance Moyer, the Chief Operations Officer of Butler Amusements.
Butler says the company has one of the best safety records in the country and the rides are inspected frequently by state officials, insurance companies, and ride operators.
As to why the accident happened, officials are still investigating.
"Could have been bad blocking, the blocking could have split, there was some splitting on the blocking. You're working with machinery sometimes and you just don't know," Moyer said.
Company officials say the malfunction looked more serious than it was, but for parents like Wood, she has doubts about how safe the rides actually are.
"Something is still happening to have caused it to slip. Who's to say it won't happen again," Wood said.
The State Ride Inspection Department has looked into the ride and parts of the attraction are being replaced Monday. The ride should re-open on Tuesday.