Published January 14, 2015
A carnival ride broke apart during a church fair Sunday, killing a man and injuring two other people.
Shrewsbury police said the spinning-car ride came apart about 2 p.m. near Saint Mary's Church and parochial school. Witnesses said they saw one of the men being thrown from the ride and crashing to the ground.
"It was really just a nightmare, a lot of children crying, mothers crying, more blood than I've ever seen," said Kathleen Madaus, 44, of Shrewsbury.
"I saw [one victim] about a foot off the ground and land on his face," said Madaus' 11-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. "There were like 5-year-olds who had to see that and I feel bad for them."
All three victims were residents of the Glavin Regional Center in Shrewsbury, a state-run facility for the mentally retarded, said Dick Powers, a spokesman for the state Department of Mental Retardation.
"It's a terrible tragedy, our condolences go out to the families and the friends of the victims," Powers said. "We will begin grief counseling immediately."
Police Chief Wayne Sampson said two men were taken to UMass Memorial Medical Center (search). He said one of the men died at the hospital and the other is in serious condition. A third person suffered minor injuries and did not require hospitalization, said Sampson, who did not immediately release the victims' names.
The ride, called the "Sizzler," has three rotating arms, each carrying four rotating sets of two-seat cars in the design of classic 1950s automobiles. The ride is about three feet off the ground and carnivalgoers said it does not lift into the air.
One of the cars was visibly damaged, and wreckage could be seen on the ground.
A ride operator was taken to the police station and was giving a statement to police, Sampson said.
WCVB-TV reported that Jaro Amusements (search) of Carlisle owns the ride. A man who answered the company's cell phone but refused to identify himself confirmed the company owns the ride, but said the company would have no comment until the state investigation is complete.
The incident occurred at the Saint Mary's Family Festival, which has been held at the church for years.
The parish pastor, the Rev. Paul O'Connell, would not answer questions about the incident. "I ask that you help all of us here at Saint Mary's with your prayers," he said.
The Diocese of Worcester (search) issued a statement saying the parish and school community were "deeply grieved by the tragic accident." It said the parish will hold counseling sessions Monday and Tuesday.
Shrewsbury is about 40 miles west of Boston.