Parents horrified as cage door on carnival attraction flies open during ride; 3-year-old okay
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - A young family is still in shock after an accident at a local carnival.
On Saturday, Nicholas Dean-Anthem and his girlfriend, Justice Shaw decided to attend the carnival at the Westway Shopping Center, put on by Weee Entertainment, with their 3-year-old son. After the little boy rode several of the kiddie rides, Dean-Anthem decided that he wanted to ride the Squirrel Cages, one of the larger carnival rides, with his son.
"They do have a measurement for him, and he was the height for it," Dean-Anthem said. "I wanted to get his on there for his first time."
The intention was for him to go on the ride with his son, but that's not what happened.
"I set my son down (into the ride) and I'm just about to step in the ride with him and, as soon as (the carnival worker) stepped in to try to tighten the strap, the ride starts to take off!"
Dean-Anthem and his girlfriend could only watch in horror as the ride took off, the cage door sill open, the child only partially strapped in. At that point, he attempted to find a way to stop the ride. He found a red button and pressed it.
Shaw said she felt helpless.
"He (the little boy) was on the cage, about to fall out... I couldn't do nothing to help him. I screamed, 'help my son, he's up there!' I don't think I'll ever get that image out of my head. The cage was still open...I thought he was gonna die."
Tim Henderson is the Safety Manager for the carnival.
"The brake (on the ride) happened to pop out of where it was latched in, which in turn releases the brake," he said. He added that the ride operator and another employee managed to bring the ride cage safely to the ground.
"Safety is our number one priority. We don't want anyone hurt," Henderson said. "We make sure to reinspect the ride before we put it back into operation," he added.
KAKE News noted that at the time of the interview, the ride in question was back up and running. We asked if he felt that the carnival should close temporarily, or if the ride should be shut down.
"We do the best we can for preventative maintenance because as you may know, it's our patrons is what pays our bills, we need the patron sales for us to continue," Henderson replied. "We make sure to reinspect the rides...before we put it back into operation.
"It's just like if your car breaks down. You're not going to throw it away for the rest of its lifespan, you know, you're going to have somebody look at it. If it's good to go, it's good to go."
Those words did little to assuage the couple's hurt.
"I asked the owner of the carnival to shut the (ride) down before someone gets hurt and he said, 'why would we do that?'" Dean-Anthem said.
The parents have filed a police report with the Wichita Police Department.
The carnival at the Westway Shopping Center runs till Sunday April, 9th. Weee Entertainment is a mobile carnival that operates in both Kansas and Oklahoma.