Dallas, TX State Fair Accident, Oct 1983


Dallas (AP) -- A car that broke loose on a popular ride at the Texas State Fair dangled for five or six revolutions with "people screaming to stop it" before falling 50 feet into a crowd, killing a young man and causing seven other people to be hospitalized.
Fairgoers watched in horror Monday night as the car disengaged from the ride called "The Enterprise" and crashed between another ride and a root beer stand.
Glenn Freeman, the operator of nearby ride, told the Dallas Times Herald that he saw the car shaking about two hours before the accident and he and the "Enterprise" operator found a damaged weld on one of the cars. Freeman said he told the operator to send for a welder.
Fair officials, however, said they received no reports of problems with the ride or any request for a welder.
"The Enterprise" car was carrying three people, including the man who died. The other two occupants, one of them the dead man's brother, were seriously injured. The other injured people were on the ground when the car crashed.
The popular European ride revolves like a wheel and turns horizontally before lifting and tilting to an 80-degree angle so the spinning riders are turned upside-down. It contains 20 cars.
The ride is owned by Continental Park Attractions of Farmingdale, N.Y., and has been used at the Texas State Fair for about seven years, said Bob Halford, the assistant general manager of the fair, where a similar fatal accident occurred in 1979.
The car "went around five or six times before it came loose. You could hear it clicking and see it coming loose," said T. J. Allred, 22, of Dallas.
"You could hear the people screaming to stop it. They could definitely see it coming off. It barely missed a refreshment booth. It was about an 11 o'clock angle."
"It landed upside down .. in a crowd of people," Allred said.
Kim Poling, 19, of Columbus, Ohio, said, "It hit and shattered."
"You could hear it banging for three or four rounds,"
said Michael Fugitt, who was on the ride when the accident occurred. "Debris and scraps of metal started flying. You'd go down into the spin, and you'd get it in your face."
Mary Brown, 19, of Dallas, said she was working at a cotton candy stand when she heard "a loud bang and then some popping. I guess it was the thing cracking."
"I looked around and saw a car flying through the air. I just jumped out of the booth and started running. I only saw two guys on the ground," Ms. Brown said. "... One of them was in pretty bad shape."
Halford said the car was impounded for an investigation.
"These things are inspected daily," Halford said.
"The ride operators have a checklist that they fill out each day."

Casa Grande Dispatch Arizona 1983-10-18