LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. - The Lehigh Spring Festival is opening as normal Wednesday night. But, the Ring of Fire ride will remain closed after a malfunction injured five children and sent two of them to the hospital. Wednesday morning, a state inspector came out to Veterans Park to investigate what exactly went wrong.
Cell phone video captured chaos seconds after something went wrong with Ring of Fire Tuesday night. In the video, you can hear screams and see adults hugging children walking away from the ride.
"Next thing I heard was a big crack," Shane Thornwell, the man who shot the video said. "I just saw light bulbs, things flying off the ride. The ride started shaking, then, I heard a God-awful scream, like somebody was hurt really bad."
Thornwell's nephews should have been on the ride, but, the operator let them get off when one started crying.
"They just got off and the next people got on," Thornwell said. "They were lucky, really lucky. I don't even think they realize how lucky they were. They are pretty traumatized by it."
Wednesday, an inspector with the Florida Department of Agriculture took pictures and checked every section of the ride. According to the State Bureau of Fair Rides Inspection, Ring of Fire was checked a week ago. Every day after that, it's the responsibility of Modern Midways, the ride's operators, to inspect things like bolts, wheels, restraints and structural integrity on this checklist.
Some worry this could have been prevented. Dan Rose was standing next to the Ring of Fire Sunday when he said, "One of the big castors, wheels that held it up on the track fell off, basically on the ground right beside us."
Rose said he warned the operator, then he and his family left because they felt unsafe. "I was surprised they didn't repair it because I told them about it, " Rose said. "It seemed they had shut it down for the day so I assumed they repaired it, but evidently, they didn't do a very good job."
We still don't know what caused the malfunction. According to state records, this is the fifth accident investigation involving Modern Midways in about five years. We reached out to them as well as the Spring Festival, but have gotten no comment.