Safety harness fails at Oregon carnival; teens screamed for operator’s help

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Sandy, OR — A group of five friends were on a carnival ride in downtown Sandy Friday evening, when a series of safety harnesses reportedly failed.

“All of a sudden while we were upside down, our harnesses came undone, like they unlocked,” 14-year-old Sharon Bartlett told Fox 12. “It just happened to all of us at the same time, out of nowhere.”

Bartlett said it happened on a ride called Skymaster as the group was going upside down for the first time. She said all five harnesses loosened, and two of the seat belts came undone as well. As a result, one of her friends slipped out of her seat and hit her head on the cage enclosure.

“We were all yelling, ‘It broke, you need to stop it,’ but [the ride operator] didn’t hear us,” she said, adding that she was bruised and banged up in the process. “I ended up having to hold [the harness] down, then pushed my legs against the seat in front of me to hold myself back. …It went over and upside down like two or three more times before the police had to stop it.”

Sandy Police confirmed the dual harness failure on its Facebook page, and said: “The child experienced minor injuries and was not transported to the hospital or seen by medical personnel. The ride was immediately shut down at the request of the Sandy Police Office.”

The mother of another girl also on the ride told Fox 12 off-camera her daughter’s seat belt came undone before the ride ever started; she flagged down the operator to fix it, but then it came undone again in the air.

When Bartlett’s mother heard about what happened, she went to the carnival to speak with the operator of the ride.

“He told me they were never in any danger and that’s why they have safety equipment to keep them out of danger,” Sharon’s mother, Dawn Bartlett, said. “Then my comment was, ‘No, your safety equipment failed.'”

The carnival was in conjunction with the annual Sandy Mountain Festival. The Bartlett’s said they enjoy the festival every year and have never experienced problems until now.

This year, rides were operated by Paradise Amusements, LLC based in Post Falls, Idaho. Fox 12 tried reaching the company several times Monday but did not hear back.

Sandy Chief of Police Kim Yamashita said the carnival company was hired by the festival, not by the city, but she believed it was a different company than had been used in years past.

“What happens if they leave here and they go to another site and someone is injured worse because the equipment isn’t safe?” Dawn Bartlett said.

The police department will be forwarding a report to the Building Codes Division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services. The stage agency has the authority to investigate complaints and accidents, review permits and potentially take action against a ride operator.

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5 comments

  • mel

    “The Bartlett’s said they enjoy the festival every year” should be “The Bartletts said they enjoy the festival every year.” No apostrophe in Bartletts, as you are talking about the whole family and not about something that belongs to one member of the family.

  • Dawn Luna

    A traveling carnival is much safer than a stationary amusement park. Every time they set up they inspect every piece of machinery and are required to do daily maintenance checks before starting the ride for the day. If you look at the statistics between a stationary park and a traveling show you will see the majority of error is with a stationary show.

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