Fairgoers stranded in air for 40 minutes

  • Updated: August 23, 2012 - 8:38 PM

Twenty-four fairgoers were stranded more than 100 feet in the air Thursday when a ride malfunctioned and a safety system stopped it mid-air for 40 minutes.

The Stratosphere, described as the tallest portable swing in the world, experienced a problem about 2:40 p.m. that triggered the safety function, said State Fair spokeswoman Brienna Schuette. The ride was stopped about two-thirds of the way up to its 200-foot peak, she said.

The ride is owned and operated by Michigan-based McDonagh Amusements. It carries riders up to the top and then spins them around in circles.

The tower is comprised of four 50-feet sections that extend up and down like a telescope. Each section has four safety locks that engage when the tower extends, and disengages so the tower can descend.

Schuette said that one of the safety locks failed to latch correctly as the tower descended, triggering the safety mechanism to stop the ride.

Operators were able to lower the ride about 3:20 p.m. There were no injuries, and Schuette said that patrons were not in danger while waiting for the ride to descend.

Six riders asked for and received refunds.

Two inspectors examined the ride, which reopened to the public by late afternoon. Schuette said that the problem was corrected, and that the deputy manager of the Midway rode the Stratosphere to ensure its safety.

McDonah Amusements operates two other rides at the fair, including Sky Wheel and Fun Factory.

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