Dallas, TX State Fair Sky Ride Crash, Oct 1979

1979 skyride.jpg

22 Oct. 1979
San Antonio Light

DALLAS (UPI) - Three gondola cars slammed together 100 feet above a crowd of 100,000 persons on the last day of the State Fair of Texas and "all of a sudden, people were falling through the air," a horrified witness said.
One man died and 16 persons were injured, including a fireman who suffered a broken leg when struck by a rescue vehicle in the frantic minute following the "Swiss Sky Ride" accident during gusty 40 mph winds late Sunday afternoon.
The dead man was identified as Fred Millard, 41, of Dallas.
Dallas police spokesman Ed Spencer said three gondola cars were involved in the accident which forced the state fair to close six hours early.
Spencer said a gondola car stalled on its cable 100 feet above the fair midway and was struck by a second gondola. The second car fell and then a third car collided with the first gondola and it fell while "the first car stayed up."
One witness, Sharon Dell, said, "One (gondola car) hit us and then another. We thought they'd stop the ride but they didn't. And then all of a sudden, people were falling through the air."
Another witness, Vanancio Rosales, said, "There was too much wind. The wind pulled it off the cable."
One of the cars went crashing through a tent-top concession stand seconds after its operator had rushed outside.
"I heard something that sounded like a real, loud drum," said the woman who had just rushed from her concession stand. "Then one of (the gondolas) crashed down next door. I got my shoes on and ran out - and then the other one landed right on top of my place."
Authorities took about 30 minutes to evacuate an estimated 100,000 persons from the fair grounds and used fire department "cherry pickers" to rescue 85 persons stranded in the 39 gondola cars that remained stuck on high wire cables.
An immediate investigation was ordered by fair officials, who closed the annual event for the first time in its history.
Some of the stranded riders were imprisoned inside the cars for up to three hours before being rescued. Ambulance and police sirens echoed through out the fair and its surrounding neighborhoods long after the accident. Families and friends tearfully embraced loved ones after they had been pulled to safety.
The effort to free the remaining passengers began after the injured were taken to hospitals. Fire department "cherry picker" trucks with tall extension ladders moved from gondola to gondola to lift down the stranded riders. People pushing in around the trucks applauded each time a gondola door swung open and its occupants crawled out to the waiting firemen.

Comments

I was there that night to see Annie

I was there that night (9 years old) to see a production of Annie, with my family. After the play was over I remember walking outside and thinking that it was darker than normal. I saw several gondolas (at tree top level) sitting still. Then, as we were walking to the car, we walked past a man who was on the ground with his pant leg cut open. I believe that this was the fireman that was hit by one of the fire-trucks. My mom recalls it being very windy that night. In later years, I went to Six Flags and some friends wanted to go on a ride where you get into a gondola/car and the whole thing spins around. I would not go on it, because a year previous to that a car had detached and the occupant was killed. All of these types of accidents cause me to be cautious about a lot of things.

I was an eye witness to the

I was an eye witness to the entire event and gave testimony in the years that followed. Was even interviewed on ABC.
I still can't ride anything without grasping the rails with white knuckles.

State Fair accident

Think it was 1988. I was there. This year (2016) I rode the new one to curb my fear of such rides.

I was there

My story: I was there that day. I wanted to ride the tram and Mom said no, even though there was no line & the Midway was packed and hot. Good thing for her premonition abilities, only minutes later, minutes; two cars fell! One man died, a woman paralyzed and died only 7 years later. 16 others hurt. Mom took all three of us, with little Brandon in a stroller, off the hysterical, panicked Midway and out from under the frozen tram cars, by going around the barrier of an active ride (the octopus spinning thing)! We hugged the fence line while it was whipping around (in the 70's we were expected to not be stupid and follow my mom!). Big Tex told the trapped people not to rock the cars. I have a healthy fear of carnival and theme park rides, only made more to the forefront with the horrific decapitation of that boy on that faulty Schlitterban ride in Kansas (harnesses made of Velcro-velcro!).

My Mom's: I remember that day! Just before you asked to go on that ride, I had a terrible premonition. I can only describe the feeling that death was stalking the midway. I believed people were about to die. I scanned the crowd for some crazy person. I felt like I wanted to jump out of my skin. I looked up just as the kids begged to go on the Skyride. The wind was harsh and the rides were swinging too much. I didn't care how many people were on it, it didn't look safe to me, and I said so. I wanted off the midway, so took the kids down to ride way deeper into the fair at the bumper cars. That choice kept us all from falling most likely. While they were in the bumper cars, the trams fell! Afterwards, I wanted to avoid the rush of people and the panic on the midway. At one point to get closer to the exit, we had to actually go just inside a barrier around an active ride, staying as close to the fence as possible. I pushed the stroller, and the other two good 'duckings' tucked themselves in behind me. I didn't want the kids to see the bodies or get crushed in a crowd of people.

Horrible, worked Trauma Radiology that day at Parkland

This was horrible, still haunts my dreams. It was very quiet Sunday working Portable Radiology (ED) at Parkland Memorial Hospital. I was a Radiologic Technologist. I had completed my rounds of Burn Unit, ICU, NICU, and stopped over at the ED to see what was up per routine. The Resident said 'Just got a call, Skyride fell at the State Fair on a concession stand, multiple trauma called, rigs are on their way. I said you gotta be kidding, he said no, get ready. It hit and it was awful. The ED trauma room 1 (similar to surgical suite) was the worst- can't talk about it. Carnage in every room.
To this day I won't ride a sky ride.

State fair

i was around 10 years old and had went to the fair park for the first time that day with my older brother and 8 year old niece, i can remember crying for a spell after that, i later returned to the state fair some 7 or 8 years laters after the fear subsided.