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May 27, 2014

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Families distressed after witnessing horrifying fairground collapse, court hears

The owner and operator of a poorly-maintained fairground ride has been fined after it collapsed sending two teenage boys hurtling from the car. One of the boys suffered a collapsed lung and required surgery in what the HSE described as a “horrifying and painful experience”. 
 
Sixteen-year-olds Conor Baker and Danny Keogh were seriously injured when riding the Mega Bounce Frog at Abbey Park in Leicester on 28 July 2012.
 
Danny Keogh was treated in intensive care following extensive surgery for a collapsed lung, broken arm and deep wounds to his side. A total of 88 staples were used during surgery and he needed stitches in his tongue and chin. He also damaged a number of teeth. Conor Baker was treated for a broken nose, broken teeth, lacerations to his face and a significant blow to the head.
 
Friends and scores of local visitors were horrified as they witnessed the incident which saw the car tipping up, throwing Danny out and bringing Conor’s head and body in line with the protective barrier around the ride, which hit and injured him as the ride continued to turn.
 
An HSE investigation found that a clip and pin securing the car to its operating arm had fallen out and identified the ride, owned by William Norman Roberts, of Bag Lane, Atherton, Manchester, had been badly-maintained.
 
Leicester Magistrates’ Court heard on 23 May that the ride had 14 cars, each attached to a radial arm at two locations by retaining pins secured in position by a clip pushed into a drilled hole at the end of the pin.
 
A fairground attendant operating the ride on behalf of Mr Roberts that day had checked the presence of the clips at 10.30am and 1pm but did not consider their condition or performance.
 
Following the incident one of the retaining pins and clips for the car the boys were in was found on the deck of the ride. HSE discovered the clip was damaged and had little grip on the pin, which had been tapered. The clip itself was pushed into a whole that had been drilled off centre meaning it did not grip the side of the pin.
 
HSE’s investigation found a second tapered pin on the ride which also had an off-centre hole, as well as two defective seatbelts. A prohibition notice was served preventing further use of the ride until it was made safe.
 
William Norman Roberts, 36, admitted breaching regulation 5(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and was fined £6,500 and ordered to pay costs of £5,000.
 
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Neil Ward said: “The unsafe condition of the ride resulted in very serious injuries to two young men who had gone out to celebrate finishing their GCSE exams. The outcome could have been much worse. It was a horrifying and painful experience for Conor and Danny and extremely distressing for their families, friends and members of the public who witnessed the incident.
 
“The public rightly expects rides to be safe. The safety-critical defects identified on this machine were very troubling. The inconsistencies in the pin ends were obvious and the pins and clips were safety-critical components that should have been thoroughly checked on a daily basis.”

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