POSTED: 2:04 p.m. HST, Sep 8, 2013
NORWALK, Conn. >> Thirteen children were injured when a festival attraction that swings riders into the air lost power at a community fair in Connecticut this afternoon but none of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening, authorities said.
Most of the children suffered minor injuries and were treated at the Oyster Festival in Norwalk, police said. Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik said there were initial reports of serious injuries but preliminary indications are that the injuries were not as severe as first feared.
One hospital reported three in stable condition and another reported three were being evaluated. Victims were also reportedly taken to a third hospital that did not immediately comment on the status of their injured.
Kulhawik estimated that some children fell between 10 and 15 feet to the ground while some hit other riders and some hit the ride itself. One child was bleeding from a head injury, he said.
The festival's organizer, the nonprofit Norwalk Seaport Association, said it directed the ride's operator, Stewart Amusement, to shut down the entire ride area until state inspectors completed a check. The other rides later reopened and the rest of the festival remained open on its third and final day.
Stewart Amusement didn't immediately return phone and email messages seeking comment. Its rides are inspected by its own staff every day, by state and local inspectors weekly and by engineers and insurance inspectors each year, the company's website said.
"Your safety is of critical importance to us," the site 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."
Stewart Amusement says it has provided rides and other attractions since 1983 at events in Fairfield and New Haven counties in Connecticut and neighboring Westchester and Putnam counties in New York.
Troopers with state police fire and explosion unit were investigating, department spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance said.
Festival organizers posted a statement about the accident on its Facebook page.
"Our first and only concern is for the wellbeing of those involved and their families," the statement said.