Midway company probed for previous ride mishap
The company that owns and operates a midway ride that malfunctioned at the Calgary Stampede was investigated last year for a roller-coaster mishap, CBC News has learned.
Ten people were injured on the Scorpion on Friday night when one of the pods came off while it was about 10 metres in the air and then crashed to the ground. The ride features rotating pods at the end of long mechanical arms that rise and fall as the ride spins.
North American Midway Entertainment, the owner and operator of the ride, called the incident "unprecedented."
But last year, a roller-coaster car at the Stampede released prematurely and ran into the back of another.
Eight people suffered minor injuries, including a child who was taken to the Alberta Children's Hospital, said Chris Tye, executive director of safety services for Alberta Municipal Affairs.
Despite the two incidents, Tye said, the number of accidents with midway rides in Alberta is low.
"We believe that records show that rides are safe in Alberta. We have a system in place that provides for professionals to inspect these rides prior to operation."
The Alberta Elevating Devices & Amusement Rides Safety Association inspects rides every year, while ride operators are expected to check them every day.
Mike Williams, CEO of North American Midway, said the Scorpion was inspected the day of the mishap, as per regulations.
"These inspections are visual inspection, and it's quite possible that a problem could exist with a component that is not available to visual inspections," said Tye.
Paulo Federico, whose son was on the Scorpion when it broke apart, said he would like to see more inspections.
"Right before we hit it on the ground we could see people, and me and my friend thought they might be dead because right beside them their heads were bleeding a lot," said Matthew Federico, 9.
'There were some challenges'
The manufacturer has asked other ride operators to shut down the Scorpion until a provincial investigation is complete, which could take two months. Stampede officials are conducting their own review.
The ride malfunction was just one of the problems this year that plagued the Stampede, which saw the deaths of six rodeo horses. Heavy rain forced the cancellation of the chuckwagon races for the first time since 1925, resulting in a drop of about 40,000 people that day.
"There were some challenges but every organization has challenges," Dr. David Chalack, Stampede president and chairman, said at a wrap-up news conference on Monday.
"We look at each incident. Everyone can learn from things. We also review all of the events that are undertaken."
With files from the CBC's Bryan Labby
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