Teenagers injured in fall from funfair ride: Accident follows 'Big Wheel' death

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The Independent Online
EIGHT teenagers were injured in a funfair accident yesterday, increasing pressure on the Government to improve safety controls following the death of a 14-year-old boy who fell from a Big Wheel ride on Thursday night.

The latest incident occurred at Coney Beach, Porthcawl, in Mid Glamorgan. One girl was seen to fall 40ft from a newly opened 'white knuckle' ride called the Top Flip, which ran into problems leaving people dangling 50ft in the air. The injured were aged between 14 and 16.

The Italian-made ride operates by strapping people in and whirling them through 360 degrees as the floor is removed beneath them.

The ambulance service said the most serious casualty suffered spine and neck injuries. The others suffered neck, leg and stomach injuries and a broken ankle. Another boy and a girl were rescued by firemen using hydraulic ladders.

Owners of the Porthcawl funfair are facing the threat of criminal charges after the death of a nine-year-old boy on Good Friday. Tim Morgan, from Cardiff, was on a waterchute ride at Porthcawl funfair when a lighting structure collapsed.

The boy's father, Chris, also on the ride with three friends, underwent surgery for throat and face injuries.

Yesterday's incident at Porthcawl comes a day after the death of Daniel Woodgate, who fell 45ft from the top of a Big Wheel ride in school grounds at Manningtree, Essex. His friend, Lawrence Clift, also fell but survived with serious head and internal injuries. Lawrence, 14, was described as 'stable' in hospital.

As police and safety inspectors launched an inquiry, the British Safety Council demanded a radical overhaul of safety standards.

Although fairground sources said the two boys were 'larking around' when the accident happened, the close timing of both incidents will increase the demand for tougher and more rigorously enforced safety regulations.

The Big Wheel was at a standstill, said to be to allow more people to get on, when the accident happened. Some witnesses claim the boys were standing up in the swaying car and clowning around before they fell out.

Police said Daniel, of Fitzgerald Close, Lawford, near Manningtree, and Lawrence, of Taylor Drive, Lawford, had taken the last ride of the evening at 9.30.

Essex police would not speculate about the cause of the accident but confirmed they were taking statements from witnesses.

However, James Tye, director-general of the British Safety Council, was suspicious of suggestions that the boys were wholly to blame.

He said: 'Accidents do not happen, they are caused - and 90 per cent of them are due to human error, to untrained and unsupervised operators.'