Probe of Fatal Carnival Accident in Mass. Underway

September 23, 2004

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating the carnival ride accident that killed one rider and injured two others at a church fair in Shrewsbury, Mass.

Andrew R. Fohlin, a 38-year-old resident of a nearby home for the mentally retarded, died after an undersized bolt on the Sizzler ride snapped, throwing Fohlin and another disabled man to the ground.

The other man, David Mills, 48, was seriously injured. Diane Derosier, 44, suffered minor injuries when she was hit by flying debris. All three people lived at the state-run home for the disabled.

Officials at the federal safety agency would not specify what they are investigating, but said they sent an inspector to Shrewsbury to look at the scene.

“I can only confirm that we’re investigating,” spokesman Eric Criss told The Boston Globe.

The commission typically works with state inspectors and ride manufacturers after ride failures to determine whether additional safety precautions or a nationwide recall should be required.

State public safety officials are also investigating. They ordered the 11 Sizzler rides operating in Massachusetts to be shut down.

Preliminary results of the investigation showed that two bolts securing the side panel of the passenger car were substandard. One was too small and snapped, and another was the right size but had been altered, according to Katie Ford, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Safety, which is conducting the investigation.

Ford would not say how the bolt had been altered. She said the ride had been inspected at least twice this year, but neither inspection detected the substandard bolts.

The owner and operator of the Sizzler, Jaro Amusements Co. Inc., issued a statement through a public relations firm, noting that the ride had been inspected by state officials in Massachusetts and New Hampshire and by the company’s insurer, Allied Insurance.

The statement said that all ride operators at the company are thoroughly trained, but it did not address the bolts or who installed them.

The Sizzler fatality was the second amusement ride death in Massachusetts this year. A 55-year-old man with cerebral palsy was thrown from a roller coaster at Six Flags New England in Agawam in May.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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