DUP man’s relief no one was killed in incident that left six in hospital after teenagers were seen to interfere with equipment
A councillor who witnessed the aftermath of Saturday’s funfair ride accident in Carrickfergus described it as like a “bomb scene”.
DUP man John McDermott said he was met with “chaos” after the Planet Fun attraction malfunctioned, throwing ride occupants through the air.
Six people were taken to hospital after the incident on the ‘Star Flyer’, which spins in circles as it rises up to 40ft.
Planet Fun said it was caused by teenagers misusing the equipment.
The park reopened on Sunday with many families visiting. Management said the site had “never been safer” when the Belfast Telegraph visited during the afternoon.
Councillor McDermott said he was left shocked by what had happened.
“It was like a bomb scene, but it was controlled chaos,” he said.
“The fire, ambulance and police services had a plan and they carried it out.
“We have to be thankful. We have one child with a broken leg and the rest minor injuries and we have got to be thankful for that. It could have been so much worse.”
One woman who had been there with her partner and children said she heard a teenager admit to “pulling” and “kicking” one of the carts, causing them to swing into each other.
She said other bystanders had also witnessed teenagers misusing the equipment in the same way, with one woman describing how they were “trailing and pulling at the other carriages and making them swing”.
People on the rides as well as bystanders spoke of the shock and panic that ensued.
Mr McDermott added: “There were children all over the place. What they had done, was anyone without a parent was made to stand on a large tarpaulin until their parents arrived. Fun fairs are there for all to enjoy.
“And this appears to be someone larking about.
“Someone has pushed something too far.”
He added that management at the funfair had done all required of them to ensure the safety of those attending.
He said Planet Fun officials were working very closely with police and the Health and Safety Executive.
“We need to wait and see what the police say, what the Health and Safety Executive say, and then the council can look at what it needs to do,” he said.
“People are bound to have captured footage on their phone or have information. They need to pass it to the investigators.”
Planet Fun management said: “Following a preliminary investigation by the Health and Safety Executive, Planet Fun have been cleared to reopen and it is confirmed the equipment has not got any mechanical defects.
“We will, however, be keeping the Star Flyer closed pending further safety checks and investigation.
“The swift actions by our staff to terminate the ride prevented further injuries.
“At this time we cannot comment any further on the incident but would extend our thoughts and best wishes to the people who were injured.”
There is no suggestion those injured were responsible for tampering with any equipment.
The Ambulance Service said two patients were taken to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, two to the Royal Victoria Hospital, one adult to Antrim Area Hospital and one child to Antrim Area Hospital.
None of the injuries are life-threatening.
Eyewitness Alison Johnston said: “One of the swings snapped and caused all the swings to bash into each other, throwing people into the signs and the other swings.”
Zara McGeown told BBC News that her nine-year-old daughter and 10-year-old niece were hurt when the swing they were in crashed into a metal sign.
Her niece was taken to hospital with leg injuries and her daughter sustained injuries to her leg and foot. Her husband and three other family members were also on the ride.
“The other family members are just in complete shock at what happened,” she said.
“It was also terrifying for myself and my daughter, who felt helpless as we watched the ride get more and more out of control.
“She was in complete hysterics as she honestly thought her family were going to be very seriously injured.”
Police said they were investigating and appealed for information.