Ferris Wheel fall raises question of ride safety

The company that operates the ride provides rides for City Fair

Two women and a child fell from a Ferris wheel at the Rhododendron Festival in Washington, May 18, 2017. (KIRO)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Just a few weeks before the Rose Festival brings City Fair to the Portland waterfront, a Ferris wheel accident in Washington is raising questions about ride regulations and safety.

Two women and a 7-year-old boy fell from a Ferris Wheel a the Port Townsend Rhododendron Festival on May 18 after witnesses say the cart flipped upside down. They feel 15-18 feet and landed on the metal floor of the ride.

A sample permit for a Funtastic Rides carnival ride, provided by the Oregon Building Codes Division, May 19, 2017
A sample permit for a Funtastic Rides carnival ride, provided by the Oregon Building Codes Division, May 19, 2017

That ride is operated by a Portland company called Funtastic Shows, which also provides rides for City Fair. Funtastic owner Ron Burback said that ride, called the Phoenix Wheel, will not be operating at the Rose Festival when City Fair opens on May 26.

The Phoenix Wheel will be taken apart and reinspected when it returns from Port Townsend.

Washington Labor and Industries inspector William Church said they are in the process of revoking the license for the ride. It was inspected and permitted in October 2016 and permits are good for one year.

Neither Oregon nor Washington have state inspectors who routinely inspect carnival rides; however, both states require insurance companies to get proof of inspections on each ride annually by private inspectors on an approved lists. If the ride passes inspection the state’s building department issues a permit for the ride.

KOIN reported last year that Oaks Amusement Park in SE Portland goes beyond the state’s regulations for ride safety.