Spring Festival Amusement
Ride Accident Report Released
The State of Florida Bureau of Fair Ride investigation has finalized a report concerning a Ring of Fire amusement ride accident that happened March 19, 2013 at the Lehigh Acres Spring Festival.
The Ring of Fire amusement ride is owned and operated by Modern Midways.
According to the Bureau, only three patrons, all minors, were injured. But according to Lehigh Acres Fire and Sheriff reports that night, five patrons were seen at the Lehigh Regional Medical Center.
According to Inspector Rick Soyars’ report, he met with the manufacturer of the ride, Larson International, and observed serve damage that had occurred throughout the entire ring section that was bent and twisted.
During an interview conducted by the bureau with Loran Morris, a former employee of Modern Midways who previously operated the Ring of Fire, Morris said, “I’m not surprised to learn of the accident.” He said the ride was not being properly maintained or serviced during his employment with Modern Midways.
In the investigative report by the Bureau, the Briggs family spokesperson, who owns the Modern Midway, said they purchased the ride from Larson International in 2004.
Jeff Novotny, owner of Larson International, said that this Ring of Fire was in an accident a few years after the purchase and was deemed totaled by an insurance company. But no paperwork could be located by the Florida Bureau of Rides about the so-called accident.
The Bureau reviewed the ride inspection history for the Ring of Fire revealing that the ride was originally permitted on October 24, 2004, to Midwest Midways operated by Frank Briggs. On October 20, 2011, the ride was permitted to Modern Midways operated by Brigg’s son, Robert. Past history of the ride shows that deficiencies were identified at each set up inspection site since acquisition in 2004. The deficiency numbers increased after the ride was permitted to Modern Midways in 2011, with more than half of the deficiencies indemnified pertaining to the components of the ring and train undercarriage. At 23 different locations, inspectors recorded deficiencies including, but not limited to, ring cracks, ring safety cables not installed, missing ring safety cable clamps, ring safety cables installed incorrectly, missing fastener nuts, ring trolley axle wheels and train wheels missing or in bad repair. At one site it was noted that 10 ring axle wheels had missing ball bearings, grease seals or were not installed correctly. Also noted at three separate inspection locations that train axles were found to be bent or broken with train wheels missing.
Stop operation orders were issued at these locations since repairs could not be completed. On January 25, 2013, the ride was issued a stop operation order for numerous deficiencies which include, but are not limited to, a bent axle under the train, 10 track wheels in bad repair and oil leaking from the drive assembly. A return inspection was requested by the company six days later revealing that the ride was still not ready for patron use. The inspector conducting this return inspection spent another four hours on location identifying similar deficiencies noted several days earlier.
According to the report, the actual cause of the accident cannot be determined due to the extensive damage withstood by the amusement ride. However there is evidence that the ride was not being properly maintained on the day of the accident as per the manufacturer’s requirements.
According to the Bureau Chief Allan Harrison, based on the information obtained during the investigation as outlined in this report, it appears that Modern Midways, Inc. has violated the following Florida Statutes: 616.242 (19) (a) 1 (a) – An amusement ride has operated or is operating with a mechanical, structural, or electrical defect that affects patron safety, of which the owner or manager has knowledge, or, through the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have knowledge.
According to the bureau, the Ring of Fire was sent back to Larson International to be examined.
Currently, attorney Joseph A. Linnehan of Morgan and Morgan has started litigation against Lehigh Acres Spring Festival and Modern Midways for one the minor patrons injured during the incident.
The Briggs family also owns Briggs Transport Inc. Briggs Transport Inc, is used by Modern Midway to transport the rides and games all over the country. Briggs’ trucks were placed out of service by the USDOT on Sept. 4, 2012, but those trucks where in Lehigh Acres on March 14-24. One of the trucks, the “duck pond,” was stopped in Tallahassee on April 7, 2013, and according to FHP spokesperson Lt. Jeff Frost is still impounded for having no records and no vin number on its trailer.
According to the US DOT, OUT-OF-SERVICE means: Carrier is under any type of out-of-service order and is not authorized to operate trucks any roads.
Currently Modern Midway is in Georgia heading home for the summer.