Soft soil may have caused fair ride collapse

PUYALLUP, Wash. -- Investigators said the soft ground may have cause a children's ride at the Spring Fair to topple over and injure several people on Friday evening.

Fair spokesperson Karen LaFlamme said the Lolli Swing, a rotating swing ride for children, fell on its side around 6:30 p.m. The ride was carrying 14 people, including several adults, at the time.

"I was on it with my 2 year old. The ride just went side to side, front to back and tipped right over," said parent Kristina Willard. "My 2 year old fell on top of me, I grabbed her. I turned around. My 5 year old was behind me. I grabbed her and sat there until they helped us out."

Willard's 5-year-old daughter, Kalie Willard, said she bumped her head when she fell over, but felt OK.

"It tipped over and then the gates fell. And everyone got hurt, and the police and the ambulance came," she said.

"It just started rocking, and the whole thing fell forward to where it knocked down the whole gate," said witness Michelle Holbrook. "The guys who worked there had to jump over the fence. I mean, it was about to crush them."

Six people were transported to nearby hospitals. A spokesman at Good Samaritan Hospital said one child and one adult were being treated in the emergency room. Their conditions were not available.

Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in Tacoma said it was treating four children, three of whom had come by ambulance.

Several other kids were treated at the scene for bumps and bruises. Among them was 7-year-old Chase Burger.

"I fell on the bottom and hit my head. And I scratched my leg on one of the lights," he said.

"I'm done with rides. I'm done. I thought this only happened on TV," said Kristina Willard.

LaFlamme said the Kiddyland ride, which has been operating at the fair for the past five years, had just passed a safety inspection with the state Department of Labor and Industries on Wednesday.

She said investigators believe the soft, soggy ground under the ride might have given way, causing the ride to collapse.

"It may have to do with the weather and the soil having a lot of moisture in it," she said. "It looks like the ride was intact; it just tipped over."

LaFlamme said nearby rides were shut down to assist in patient treatment and ride investigation. The fair itself, however, continued operating and will do so through the weekend.

The Lolli Swing is owned by Funtastic Traveling Shows, a Portland-based company that has been operating rides at the Puyallup Fairgrounds for more than 50 years. The company, which last saw a serious injury in 2002, runs safety training at its Portland facility every year.

The company's owner could not be reached for comment.
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