An incident on a ferris wheel outside a Winnipeg community centre that sent a child to hospital was a freak accident, says the owner of the carnival company that was involved.
The incident happened shortly after noon Saturday at a midway set up outside the Southdale Community Centre, when two enclosed cages on a children's ferris wheel somehow flipped upside down.
"They're supposed to be hanging down and they had actually turned upside down," said Erin Leslie, who had just arrived at the carnival with her family when she heard screaming.
"We could see kids' legs sticking up and the parents were frantically trying to get over the rail," she recalled.
Some children in one of the flipped cages were not strapped in and they were tossed around from one end of the cage to the other, Leslie said.
"As the ride continued to come down, the carts actually smashed into each other and then they were able to get the kids out," she said.
The Southdale Community Centre confirmed that one child was taken to hospital with several bumps and bruises.
'I feel terrible it happened,' says owner
Community centre officials said they have been using the same carnival company, Select Shows of Garson, Man., for the past 20 years without incident.
Select Shows owner Jim Mills told CBC News it appears that a bolt came loose on one of the ferris wheel's spokes, which had lights on it.
"You could call it a bit of a freak accident, but the light came down and came in contact with one of the seats of this ferris wheel, causing the seat to turn sideways," he said.
Mills said the ride in question, called the "Kiddi Wheel," had been inspected by the provincial government on May 8. It was also inspected by his own staff just before the carnival opened on Saturday, he added.
"Oh, I feel terrible it happened. That could have been my best friend's kids, and that don't make it any different if it's anyone else's kids," he said.
"I'm going to do the best I can to make sure this doesn't happen. I can't guarantee anything."
Mills said in the 43 years he's been in business, running carnivals across Manitoba and Ontario, his company has had an impeccable safety record.
He said he has already spoken to the Department of Labour about the incident and will be meeting with officials to find out what, if anything, could be improved.
A government spokesperson confirmed that 17 of Select Shows' amusement rides — including the Kiddi Wheel — were inspected on May 8 and no major violations were found.
"Inspectors did note minor Midway Safety Code violations on six of those rides, but corrective action was taken immediately while the inspector was on site," the spokesperson stated in an email.
"The ride involved in an incident on May 24 was inspected at that time and did not have any safety deficiencies noted."