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18 Injured After Norwalk Festival Ride Malfunctions

'You Don't Imagine This Happening,' Witness Says

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NORWALK, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Eighteen people — most of them children — were injured after a festival ride in Norwalk, Conn. apparently malfunctioned Sunday afternoon, police said.

Thirteen people, 12 of them children, had to be hospitalized.

Norwalk police said a swing ride called the Zumur, at the Kids Cove section of the Oyster Festival, apparently lost power.

Eighteen people – most if not all of them children – suffered what were believed to be minor injuries. All the injuries were considered non-life-threatening.

A total of 13 patients were taken to Norwalk Hospital, two to Stamford Hospital, and three to Bridgeport Hospital. All but two of the hospitalized patients were treated and released, police said.

Five people refused treatment at the scene.

The ride was operational when it suddenly stopped while in midair, state police said. Because of the centripetal force, the riders’ swings began colliding with each other.

As WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported, witnesses said they heard a loud bang as the ride locked up and suddenly stopped.

And as CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported, it was a father’s scariest moment. Edison Roldan’s 6-year-old daughter, Camilla, was on the Zumur when its swings flailed and crashed.

Camilla’s legs were banged up from being thrown violently against the supports and other swings. She told Carlin it still hurt hours afterward.

“We spent the whole day in the hospital,” Edison Roldan said. “She said, ‘Daddy, can we go home? I don’t want to stay here. I just want to go home.’ And I checked all the places on her body.”

He was relieved that his daughter’s injuries weren’t more serious.

“I say, ‘God, thank You for giving me my daughter back,” Roldan said.

Sam Razzaia of Stamford said his daughter had been on the ride before the crash. He saw the accident and the chaos afterward.

“I did see a couple of kids ejected from the seats from when it stopped so suddenly,” he said. “Everything just stopped, but of course, when it stopped, the swings went all different directions with the children on it, and they were bouncing off the steel frames.”

Several children slammed into the ride itself and other children on the ride, according to Norwalk police Chief Tom Kulhawik. While Kulhawik initially said some of the children fell 10 to 15 feet to the ground, police later said it did not appear that anyone had been ejected or fallen.

One child was bleeding from a head injury after the accident, Kulhawik said.

Parents rushed to rescue their children, Razzaia said.

“The parents with the children around just knocked the protective barriers to get to their kids, and then it was chaotic after that,” he told WCBS 880’s Smith.

Razzaia told Carlin he would probably never allow his children to go on the rides again.

Many of the children were treated for bumps and bruises, CBS affiliate WFSB-TV, Hartford reported. reported.

All the injured children were transported to hospitals in Norwalk, Stamford and Bridgeport, the station reported. One hospital reported three in stable condition and another reported three were being evaluated.

“I happen to be a trauma surgeon in town, so I assessed the area and assessed all the kids at the time, and no one seemed greatly injured.” Said Dr. Neil Floch. “All the kids were moving their extremities and everything.”

Miguel Cruz was leaving the festival with his family at the time, and watched first responders rush to the scene. He got a closer look and took photos.

“A lot of children just laying on the ground with their parents over, and the paramedics and the firefighters, you know, checking on them,” he said.

He remained in shock after the accident.

“You don’t imagine this happening,” Cruz said. “You hear it on the news, but when it happens right there, it does have an impact on you.”

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.

Not all of the festival attendees thought reopening the rest of the rides was the right move.

“It was just shocking, and I think, you know, they should have closed all the rides off for the rest of the day,” said Laura Augustyn of Norwalk.

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.”

Norwalk Carnival Accident

A child is treated after an accident on a carnival ride at the Norwalk Oyster Festival in Norwalk, Conn. (Credit: Miguel Cruz)

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 the festival Facebook page.

“Our first and only concern is for the wellbeing of those involved and their families,” the statement said.

The oyster festival is sponsored by the Norwalk Seaport Association and runs all weekend. Sunday was family day at the event, the station reported.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)