4-year-old Sheldon Lewis received critical injuries when a ride that he and others were exiting suddenly re-activated and trapped him underneath. According to witnesses, another small child had simply pressed a button to activate the Twin Rings Demolition Derby ride at the Louisiana State Fair in Shreveport.
This “on” button, which could be activated by a young child, was on the operator control panel, negligently left unmanned but still energized at the time of the Louisiana State Fair ride accident. Outraged parents and others (like our carnival ride accident lawyers) are questioning how this could happen.
Young Sheldon Lewis had accompanied his Head Start group from Coushatta to the Louisiana State Fair for a day of carefree fun. But unfortunate Sheldon Lewis ended up hospitalized in critical condition instead because of ride operator negligence. He remained trapped under the Twin Rings Demolition Derby ride for about half an hour before firefighters could cut him free from the heavy machine.
The Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s office says that a mechanical or electrical malfunction did not cause the accident and injury. (Nope. A young child curiously pressing an easily accessible “on” button on an active ride control panel, negligently left unmanned and unsupervised, caused the accident and injury.) The Fire Marshal’s office isn’t saying yet whether Lowery Carnival, the ride operator, took proper safety precautions in operating the Twin Rings Demolition Derby ride.
But the Fire Marshals probably don’t need to state the obvious. Leaving the control panel of an easily-activated piece of heavy ride equipment accessible, energized, and unmanned while a passel of curious, fun-loving and mischievous young children were about clearly shows a lack of proper safety precautions.
Indeed, it’s just plain negligent to leave unmanned and easily accessible an operator control panel for a heavy piece of machinery that a small and curious child can start up simply by pressing a single button. And witness accounts indicate that a small child simply pressed one button to activate the ride and cause the dangerous injury and mayhem that ensued. Sheldon Lewis remains in the hospital with his severe injuries, but that mere press of a button clearly could have resulted in fatal injuries to those exiting the ride at the time of the accident.
A news report quotes Ken Martin, an amusement park ride safety expert, as questioning why the fairly new Twin Rings Demolition Derby ride did not have a “dead man’s switch,” or why the ride remained energized while the operator left the panel unmanned. We carnival ride accident lawyers think that those are certainly fair questions.
Ken Martin says that rides have had the “dead man’s switch” (an operator presence switch) for several years, and that some rides even require that the operator be seated on a pressure plate before the ride can be activated. Moser manufactured the Twin Rings Demolition Derby ride at the Louisiana State Fair in 2007.
State Fair manager Chris Giordano seems to be responding to this query in a statement that says they can’t modify the ride by adding a pressure plate without the manufacturer’s permission. His concern might relate to manufacturer’s warranty requirements.
Amusement park rides require yearly inspections and additional inspections prior to opening a fair or other event. In addition, manufacturers issue service bulletins (recalls) periodically relating to their products that require repairs or modifications to the machines because of safety concerns. Had the State Fair wished to modify the Twin Rings Demolition Derby ride by adding a “dead man’s switch” as a safety precaution, our carnival ride accident lawyers suspect that Moser would have given them permission if they had requested it.