• Investigation continues into ride accident that injured 5

    By: Jim Bradley


    RALEIGH, N.C. - A N.C. State Fair ride is roped off with caution tape after it sent five people to the hospital Thursday night.

    Two of the injured riders are out of the hospital, but the conditions of the other three injured are unknown. Those three asked that their information not be released.

    The state continues to try to figure out what happened in an accident state leaders said has shaken the fair.

    There's been no letup in the crowds at the state fair.

    Along with a jam-packed midway, the state fair is packed with questions about how the Vortex somehow injured four riders and its operator in a dangerous and embarrassing accident.

    "There is no way that we can minimize the tragedy of this accident. What we have to know now are the answers to what happened," said NC Agriculture Secretary Steve Troxler.

    Twenty hours have gone by and neither Troxler, nor Labor Secretary Cherie Berry, who oversees amusement ride inspections, have been able to offer anything more than vague assurances.

    "I have full confidence that the rides here are safe for the riding public and if my children were here I would put them on it," Berry said.

    The Vortex, which spins riders at 60 mph, wasn't safe. Investigators believe riders were getting off when the Vortex started up again without warning.

    Inspectors said they'd already had one complaint about the ride earlier in the week.

    "It turned out to be a switch that was bad. They repaired it. We checked it. The ride went back into service," said chief ride inspector Tom Chambers.

    Sheriff's deputies were still guarding the scene Friday. The Vortex will remain shut down for the rest of the fair.

    All rides here are supposed to be inspected three times a day. The sheriff said investigators are trying to interview dozens of possible witnesses.

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