LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. - Only on WINK, we are hearing from a teenager who was on a ride that malfunctioned Tuesday night, injuring five people. The accident happened on Ring of Fire at the Lehigh Spring Festival at Veterans Park. That ride remains closed and according to the State Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, it will stay closed for some time.
Franklin Zamora, who was on Ring of Fire when it malfunctioned, tells us he and his family are still shaken. Troubling memories from Tuesday night are all too fresh in his mind. "The ride came to a halt," Zamora said. "You felt the sudden impact. I felt something hit my leg. I'm not exactly sure what it was because it was too sudden to tell. The person beside me was screaming, get me out of here."
The 15-year-old was one of the last riders strapped into Ring of Fire before something - which we still don't know - went very wrong. A witness filmed a chaotic scene on their cell phone just moments after it happened.
"One," Zamora recalled, "her whole face was bleeding. I find out I have contusions all over my body. It still hurts to move my neck."
The State Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said the Ring of Fire will not reopen for some time, and will not be removed until the investigation is complete. After that, officials say more investigation will be needed before the ride can be set up again.
Zamora said Modern Midways, which operates the ride, offered no apology and very little compensation. He's now considering a lawsuit.
A Modern Midways manager declined to comment, only saying that all of the riders are okay.
"Had that ride stopped a little bit above, none of us would probably be here," Zamora said. "I don't want anybody else injured. I'd like to see Modern Midways pay for what they did, pay for their negligence, their lack of safety, their lack of care."
A state inspector traveled to Lehigh Wednesday, taking pictures and checking each part of Ring of Fire. We won't know what exactly caused the malfunction or if any fines could be issued until the investigation is complete.
President of the Lehigh Spring Festival Andy Reisinger released this statement: "The Board of Directors of the Lehigh Spring Festival and all its volunteers are deeply saddened by the tragic incident, which occurred at "The Ring of Fire" carnival ride, which is owned and operated by Modern Midways. We hope that all victims involved in this incident will quickly recover from their sustained injuries. As safety and security of our patrons and guests is always our number one priority, we are certain that a thorough investigation by the proper authorities will provide us with the much needed answers, why such incident occurred. The Lehigh Spring Festival is a staple and an annual tradition of our community, which has provided Lehigh Acres with a family oriented, fun filled festival for almost 40 years. Once again, we wish everyone who was involved in this incident a speedy and full recovery."