5 people were injured, two in serious condition, after the vortex ride at the NC State Fair. (Source: WNCN via NBC)
RALEIGH, NC (WECT) – Five people were injured Thursday night in an accident involving the Vortex, a ride at the North Carolina State Fair.
According to fair organizers, preliminary reports show the ride had stopped and people were getting off when the ride suddenly started back up unexpectedly.
The people injured age in range from 14-39 years old and were taken to WakeMed hospital for treatment within 20 minutes of the initial call. Two people are in serious condition.
According to the sheriff's office, some of the victims were family members.
A witness identified as Caleb Norris told WNCN television that he heard a crashing sound just after getting off the Vortex. He turned around and saw two people lying face down. He went on to say the ride operator fell to his knees and started to cry.
State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said during a news conference Friday that safety is something that is taken very seriously.
According to Troxler, what happened was an "isolated incident" and encouraged people to visit the State Fair for the final weekend.
A news release on the State Fair's website explains this is the first time this particular Vortex ride has been a part of the fair.
According to the release, the ride was made by Technical Park International of Italy and was located on the lower midway behind the Expo Center at the fairgrounds.
State Fair officials said there are two Vortex rides on the fairgrounds, but the second Vortex, located on the new midway, has been on site for many years and is manufactured by Fabbri of Italy.
The Department of Labor is working with State Fair officials to investigate the cause of the accident. Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison is asking any cell phone video of the accident be given to authorities for investigating.
Some of the rides from the state fair will be on their way to Wilmington for the Cape Fear Fair and Expo November 1-10. Powers Great American Midways provides those rides, and they have been supplying the Cape Fear Fair and Expo for the past 23 years.
Skip Watkins, 2nd Vice President with the Cape Fear Fair says the company has a flawless track record when it comes to that fair.
"It's legitimate for the people in Wilmington to make sure that things are good. But yes, we will do everything in our power to make it safe. But we've always done that and we always will," Watkins said.
Copyright 2013 WECT. All rights reserved. AP contributed to this report.