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‘Behaviour’ of teenagers and ‘misuse’ of equipment blamed for Carrickfergus ride malfunction

An incident on a Carrickfergus fairground ride which injured six people, including three children, was caused by teenagers misusing equipment, according to the attraction organisers.

The ride at the Planet Fun attraction at Carrickfergus Castle swung beyond its perimeter and struck a number of signs belonging to the structure.

Six people were injured as a result and were taken to hospital, including three children.

A number of people were also treated for injuries at the scene. It is not thought anyone is in a critical condition as a result of the incident.

The ride that malfunctioned at the Planet Fun attraction is called ‘Star Flyer’. It spins its occupants in circles as it rises up to 40ft in the air.

Planet Fun confirmed on Sunday the park has been cleared to reopen after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive and blamed the incident on the “misuse” of equipment by “several teenagers”.

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There is currently no suggestion those injured at the incident were responsible for tampering with any equipment.

“Following a preliminary investigation by the Health & safety executive planet fun have been cleared to reopen and it is confirmed the equipment has not got any mechanical defects,” Planet Fun said in a statement.

“We will however be keeping the Star Flyer closed pending further safety checks and investigation.

“The incident tonight was caused by misuse of equipment by the behaviour of several teenagers on the attraction and is to be further investigated by the PSNI.

“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.”

In a statement on Sunday, PSNI Chief Inspector Stephen Murray said: "We received a number of calls shortly after 5:55pm last night (Saturday, 24th July) in relation to an incident involving an amusement ride at a funfair in Carrickfergus and that a number of people had been injured.

"Our officers responded to these calls and attended the scene, assisting emergency service colleagues from Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service.

"We are continuing today to assist the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland as they conduct their enquiries. We are also making enquiries and we would ask anyone who was at the scene last night, and who has not yet spoken to our officers, to call us on 101 and quote reference number 1607 of 24/07/21.”

The Health and Safety Executive has been contacted for a response to Planet Fun’s statement.

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) said it received a 999 call at 5.53pm on Saturday reporting that a ride had collapsed.

Four emergency crews, a rapid response paramedic and an ambulance officer were all despatched to the scene.


Emergency services at the scene of a funfair ride incident in Carrickfergus

Emergency services at the scene of a funfair ride incident in Carrickfergus

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Emergency services at the scene of a funfair ride incident in Carrickfergus

A spokesperson for the NIAS said: “Following assessment and initial treatment at the scene, two patients have been taken to Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, two to Royal Victoria Hospital, one adult to Antrim Area Hospital and one child to Antrim Area Hospital - none with life threatening injuries.

“A number of patients were discharged at the scene. It is not anticipated that any others will require hospital attendance.”

A number of Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) appliances and specialist search units were also present, as well as the PSNI and Air Ambulance NI.

Planet Fun, which has a council licence to operate the funfair, said at "no stage did the ride collapse".

“We immediately sought assistance from the NI Ambulance Service," Planet Fun continued.

“We have also reported the incident to the Health and Safety Executive and will co-operate fully with the agency to understand exactly what happened.

“Health and safety is central to all operations at Planet Fun and will offer whatever assistance is required to those customers affected.”

A number of stunned parents took to social media to express their shock and anger at what happened after their children were injured on the ride.

Emma Roberts said: “I was on the ride with all my children, one very badly hurt, one has a hurt ankle and one is in bad shock. Absolutely terrifying will never be back.”

Fellow mum Zara McGeown added: “My husband, daughter and other family members were on the ride, it was terrifying.”

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,” with fellow attendee Julie Allen adding: “Genuinely the scariest thing I have ever witnessed in my LIFE.”

DUP councillor John McDermott, who was present at the scene, told the Belfast Telegraph that children were thrown from the ride out onto the ground and on to the grass.


Firefighters at the ride in Planet Fun in Carrickfergus

Firefighters at the ride in Planet Fun in Carrickfergus

Firefighters at the ride in Planet Fun in Carrickfergus

He said the ride had got to about 15ft in the air before the incident occurred.

“Everyone is stunned," continued Mr McDermott. "There’s people walking about here in total shock.

“It looks like everyone has been reunited. There’s a crowd of kids here and they've phoned their mums and dads and they're on their way to pick them up.”

Geoff Somerville from the NIFRS said approximately 200 people were in attendance at the Carrickfergus Castle attraction and about 10 people were injured “possibly” by the ride.

“Two people have been taken to hospital by ambulance, two taken to hospital by parents and eight people have superficial injuries and are getting treated on the scene,” stated Mr Somerville.

“They have neck pain, back pain, leg pain and cuts.


Emergency services at the scene of the funfair accident

Emergency services at the scene of the funfair accident

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Emergency services at the scene of the funfair accident

“We are still in attendance. Three appliances are there as well as our specialist rescue team, emergency support service.

“The Health and Safety Executive has been informed.”

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis said his thoughts are with all of those who were injured in the incident and thanked the emergency services who attended.

Health Minister Robin Swann wished everyone who was injured a speedy recovery.

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