Eight sent to hospitals after ride malfunction at Tennessee fair

Ride malfunction

 (Fox 13 Memphis)

Eight people were taken to hospitals after a ride suddenly shut down Saturday at a fair in Memphis, Tenn., officials said. 

Riders were enjoying the Moonraker, which spins around an axis and tilts up and down on an angle, at the Delta Fair when the ride's computer detected a problem and immediately began safety shutdown, Matt Snyder, the fair's safety director, told the Associated Press.

As the ride stopped spinning and began to descend, the operator of the ride panicked and pressed a manual override button that released the safety restraints before it settled into its cradle.

"It scared everybody," Snyder said.

Initial reports that 14 people were thrown from the ride and taken to hospitals were "terribly inaccurate," according to Earle Farrell, a spokesman from the Shelby County Sheriff's Office. Fair officials denied that anyone was thrown from or fell from the ride.

Two adults and six children were transported to hospitals after walking from the ride under their own power. None had visible injuries, but some complained their ankles were hurting, Snyder said. Four more people were treated at the scene.

One of the two adults who went to the hospital was the ride operator, who was emotionally shaken by the accident, officials said.

Anna Jordan, who was on the ride, told Fox 13 Memphis her safety harness released as she was at the top of the ride. Jordan said she was able to hang on and was not injured, but described a chaotic scene as children were treated for their injuries. 

"We thought it was just part of the ride and then it stopped. We were all holding on and everyone was screaming and crying," Jordon told Fox 13 Memphis.

The ride has been shut down but the fair remained open Saturday. The ride had received a technical inspection in the past three years, and two more inspections in the days before the fair opened this week, Snyder said.

A ride inspector is scheduled to check the ride on Tuesday, according to president Mark Lovell.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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