October 30, 2012 by Robert Tharp at 3:30:00 pm
Teasing danger is certainly a big part of the allure of midway carnival rides at the State Fair of Texas and carnivals and fairs big and small across the country. As the rides have gotten bigger, faster and more sophisticated, the carnival ride industry has matured with better oversight and more safety protections for passengers.
But this year’s record-breaking State Fair of Texas points the need for more work to be done. On the same day that the iconic Big Tex was incinerated in a dramatic flash fire, riders on the already troubled Statosphere ride were left dangling nearly 200 feet in the air for more than two hours.
Meanwhile, another ride at the State Fair of Texas, the Techno Power(also known as Re-Mix II), was involved in a mishap at the 2011 San Diego County Fair. In that incident, the ride malfunctioned and started up as passengers were disembarking, throwing one passenger and seriously injuring a ride operator. Investigators were unable to pinpoint the precise cause of the accident, but the ride was rewired and allowed to go back in commission in advance of the State Fair of Texas. And earlier this year, a Houston man died when he fell from the Hi-Miler roller coaster at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
The increased focus on amusement ride safety at the State Fair of Texas is in part a result of work by Dallas personal injury lawyer Frank L. Branson who represented victims of a 1983 accident involving the “Enterprise” ride at the State Fair of Texas in 1983, which killed one rider and seriously injured another. As part of a settlement in that case negotiated by The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson, fair officials agree to implement extra monitoring and safety measures.
"They've certainly changed for the better," Mr. Branson says. "There's still a lot of hazard out there."
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