News Column

Ride that injured two El Paso teenagers at Saint Anthony's Bazaar was in compliance, officials said

September 3, 2014

By Luis Carlos Lopez, El Paso Times, Texas



Sept. 03--The ride that injured two teenagers on Sunday at the annual Saint Anthony's Bazaar was insured and in compliance with state law, officials said.

Texas Department of Insurance spokesman Jerry Hagins said the carnival operator, Sun City Amusements, was in good standing and that its ride "Sidewinder" was insured and certified until April 2015.

"It's rare, but there are accidents that do occur," Hagins said about the weekend's incident.

The accident took place about 10 p.m. Sunday at the bazaar at 4601 Hastings, a news release by the El Paso Police Department stated.

A boy and a girl, both age 13, were seated inside the "Sidewinder" just before it started moving, police said. Once the ride was in motion and spinning a door came open and the teens fell to the ground, a police news release said.

The teens, both of El Paso, were taken to University Medical Center, police said. The injuries the teenagers sustained are not believed to be life-threatening, a police news release stated.

The festival continued on Monday, but the rides were not in use.

Rob Gallardo, who attended bazaar,said he was about 50 feet from the ride when the accident took place.

"I was eating when I heard a little girl say, 'Mom, two kids fell off the ride and the ride is stuck.'"

Gallardo said that when he got closer, he saw the two teenagers about 15 feet apart from each other. He said the teenagers fell about 20 feet.

"Two bystander were saying that the ride operator had not locked the door. Other kids were saying that the boys that fell were not wearing seat belts and that their weight forced the door to open. It's two conflicting stories," Gallardo said.

No charges have been filed and the case remains under investigation, police said.

Police spokesman Detective Mike Baranyay said Tuesday that there were no new updates on the case.

The ride had a liability insurance of $1 million per occurrence, Hagins said. The insurance could cover medical costs for the victims.

Hagins said Texas Department of Insurance regulates and oversees the system of insurance of amusement park rides. He said that each ride is inspected annually. Hagins added that in the case of traveling rides, such as the one that injured the two El Paso teenagers, are required by law to have a daily log documenting ride tests and operation.

"It's a self-inspection that the operators are required to do," Hagins said.

Hagins added that the log does not have to be reported to the state's insurance department, but local law enforcement officials can use it in an investigation.

Barbara Loretta Tovar, Sun City Amusements owner, said she did not want to comment because the accident was still under investigation.

Deacon William Reyes at St. Anthony Seminary said that this was the first time in over half a century that an accident occurred at the annual bazaar.

"We are very concerned and sad that this incident happened because we want to provide our community and visitors of the bazaar a safe and secure family-oriented environment," Reyes said.

Reyes added that it is to early to discuss whether their would be any changes made to next year's bazaar as far as amusement rides were concerned.

Luis Carlos Lopez may be reached at 546-6381.

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(c)2014 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)

Visit the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas) at www.elpasotimes.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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Source: El Paso Times (TX)


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