Mass. Carnival Rides Face Inspections Following Death

September 27, 2004

Every mobile carnival ride in Massachusetts will get an inspection by years’ end, and a task force will look into stricter safety rules after a fatal accident at a church fair in Shrewsbury last weekend.

Six certified inspectors will look at the rides at carnival sites across the state and examine each ride’s maintenance logs. There are 39 mobile carnival companies licensed to operate amusement rides in the state, with a half-dozen carnivals scheduled for this weekend, according to state officials.

“We need to do everything we can to make sure these rides are safe,” Public Safety Commissioner Thomas G. Gatzunis said in a statement.

State and federal officials are investigating last Sunday’s fatality near St. Mary’s Church and parochial school. Two bolts snapped on the ride known as the Sizzler, causing a passenger car to come apart in midair. Andrew R. Fohlin, 38, died from his injuries, and two other people, David Mills, 48, and Diane Derosier, 44, were injured.

On Monday, Gatzunis ordered the 11 spinning Sizzler rides operating in the state to shut down pending detailed inspections.

The new inspections extend only to parts assembled and dismantled between carnivals. Such inspections would not have caught the undersized bolt inside the passenger car on the Sizzler ride in Shrewsbury, because it is not typically taken apart on a regular basis, according to state officials. Insurance companies check parts that remain intact when carnival rides are transported.

An insurance company inspected the Sizzler ride owned by Jaro Amusements Co. Inc. in March. The state last inspected the ride in 2002, not in July, as Gatzunis had said earlier this week, the department said.

Public safety spokeswoman Katie Ford said the new task force will look at increasing safety regulation by requiring more frequent inspections.

“We are going to be taking a very close look at our statutes and potentially rewriting the regulations to strengthen them to make sure we are doing everything in our power to make our amusement rides as safe as possible,” Ford said.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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