Several children injured when swing ride fails at Norwalk Festival
NORWALK — Eighteen people were hurt Sunday when a swing ride at the Norwalk Oyster Festival suddenly stopped, slamming riders into each other, according to Norwalk police. Norwalk police said five people declined treatment at the scene and twelve children and one adult were taken to three area hospitals for minor injuries. As of 9:30 p.m. Sunday police said an 8-year-old boy still was receiving treatment at Norwalk Hospital.
An apparent “internal mechanical failure” halted the ride’s circular motion, police said. Investigators do not believe any riders were ejected.
Norwalk police reported that the riders were mostly children, and all of them suffered minor injuries. The injured were transported to Norwalk, Stamford and Bridgeport hospitals, police said.
Witnesses reported hearing a loud noise before the ride halted and then the swings began moving rapidly, forcing riders to hit one another.
“The ride stopped and all the kids that were on the swings went every which way, banging off the rails and I just couldn’t believe I was witnessing that,” said Sam Razzain of Stamford. “My wife and I decided that we probably won’t allow our daughter to go on any of the rides anymore. We don’t know how safe or if they’re going to be inspected properly. Who knows? They just seem dangerous.”
Norwalk police referred to the ride as “Zumur.” Participants swing out while the ride goes in a circular motion.
Police initially had reported that power to the ride failed, but state police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance said the cause of the accident has not been determined. Troopers with the fire and explosion unit were investigating the accident, he said.
“The parents were screaming. Everyone started screaming. It was very chaotic,” said Razzain.
David Barker said that he questioned why the ride operator did not stop the ride when there was the first initial loud noise.
“Something went wrong at the first noise he heard. He should have stopped it. He allowed it to go around,” Barker said.
Eleven-year-old Riley Webb saw the scene unfold.
“I was actually kind of glad that I didn’t bring one of my friends today because all the friends I invited would want to go on that ride,” said Webb.
The Norwalk Seaport Association, which hosts the festival, posted a statement on its Facebook page Sunday evening saying that state police authorized the ride operator, Stewart Amusement, to reopen other rides for the remainder of the evening. The company had reinspected all other rides, the posting said. Vance said the swing ride is in state police custody.
Stewart Amusement Co., according to its website, “has been providing quality rides and attractions to many of the area’s most successful events since 1983.”
“Your safety is of critical importance to us,” the website description says. “Not only do we have an obligation to provide our guests with the safest equipment and environment possible, but also our ultimate success depends on it. Rides are inspected daily by our own trained personnel, weekly by state and local inspectors, and annually by professional engineers and insurance company inspectors.”
A company representative could not be reached for comment.