On October 24, 2013, five people were injured after an accident involving the Vortex ride at the North Carolina State Fair. The ride operator was arrested a few days after the accident. Source: http://www.wral.com (Ride operator arrested in connection with State Fair accident); http://www.usatoday.com (Ride operator charged in N.C. fair accident)
The passengers were getting ready to get off the Vortex ride after the restraint bar was lifted when the ride suddenly restarted. Without the restraint bar, passengers who could not jump off in time were lifted in the air and thrown off when the ride started its course. The ride should not have started. Three passengers remain in the hospital.
The Vortex ride operator has since been charged with three felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury.
According to Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison, the ride “had been tampered with, and critical safety devices were compromised.”
Sheriff Harrison also went on to say that the ride operator made an unauthorized change to the Vortex’s safety system after its last inspection on the day of the accident in order to keep the ride running.
When riders, such as the riders on the North Carolina State Fair’s Vortex, are injured while on the ride, a cause of action may be made against the ride operator for negligently operating the ride.
State fair ride operators can be held liable for injuries to riders if they fail to use reasonable care in the management of the rides. In the above situation, it certainly seems that the ride operator failed to use reasonable care in the management of the Vortex by tampering with safety devices.
Though the investigation is ongoing, the ride manufacturer may also be responsible if the safety devices were defective. In that situation, the riders may also have a products liability claim against the ride manufacturer.