Festival ride in Conn. sends children falling, injures 15

Updated 8:23 p.m. ET

NORWALK, Conn.Eighteen people -- mostly children -- were injured when a festival attraction that swings riders into the air lost power at a community fair in Connecticut on Sunday 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.

Thirteen children were admitted to three different hospitals, according to Norwalk police. Twelve of the children were released later that night. The remaining patient is at Norwalk Hospital, where he or she is believed to have non-life-threatening injuries.

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 scene at the Oyster Fest in Norwalk, Conn., where a swing lost power on Sept.8, 2013. Thirteen children were injured.
The scene at the Oyster Fest in Norwalk, Conn., where a swing ride lost power on Sept.8, 2013. Thirteen children were injured.
Chuck Dianis

Miguel Cruz was leaving the festival with his family at the time, and watched first responders rush to the scene, according to CBS New York.

"The ride lost power, and it stopped, and I guess it caused the swings to crash into each other," he told WCBS 880. "I'm not really sure what else happened."

"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 added.

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.

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