Memphis fair officials apologize for downplaying ride accident

MEMPHIS - The Moonraker is still out of service at the Delta Fair after an accident sent seven riders, including five children, to the hospital.

Officials are apologizing for the mishap, which they said was caused when the ride operator pressed the wrong button.

“This is unacceptable to the Delta fair and we apologize it happened,” Director of Safety and Emergency Services Matt Snyder said. “We expect everyone to come out here with the expectation of having a good time and being safe.”

A county code enforcement inspector and a National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials inspector both checked out the ride Sunday. A computer feature allowing the operator to release the safety belts while the ride is moving has now been disabled.

“We're having all of BCA's rides inspected,” Snyder said. “Or any ride of that era that might have that type of computer programming.”

As the Moonraker was moving, the safety belts were released. Some people held on, while others fell or slid out of their seats. No riders ever physically fell off the ride, but fell into a middle section, where they hit metal bars.

Some riders suffered extensive injuries.

“One with a fractured leg, one with a fractured wrist, and one with a fractured collar bone,” Snyder said. “It doesn't matter if it's a bruise or a scrape, it's unacceptable.”

Fair officials originally downplayed the incident, because onsite EMS workers said there were no visible injuries. It wasn’t until riders got to the hospital that they learned how badly they were hurt.

They released the following statement, apologizing for the dismissal of injuries:

Yesterday's incidents were very unfortunate and we are grateful that the injuries that did occur were minor in nature and no one was seriously hurt. Our apologies and condolences go out to the individuals on the ride involved, and also to everyone that was under the impression that we were trying to mislead you.

We released the statement on our Facebook Page at 4 p.m. on Saturday. It was not until later last night around 10 or 11 p.m. that we were told about the individuals at the hospital that indeed did have injuries. In no way were our intentions to mislead or lie to anyone and certainly do not want to come across that way.

Here at the Delta Fair & Music Festival, we have tried to be honest and present a track record of being forthright and honest with the public in our 10 year history. We are going to go above and beyond to make sure that this does not occur again. The 2016 Delta Fair and Music Festival will continue to be open until September 11th and we want to welcome everyone to come out for a family­friendly, safe environment at the fair. 
Even with the mistake Saturday, fair goers were still riding the rides. Many, however, said they won’t be lining up to go on the Moonraker.

The ride will have to pass another inspection from the State of Tennessee, Shelby County Code Enforcement, and Matt Snyder.

 


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