Team 12 Investigates: Carnival rides being held to higher safety standards

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Rides at carnivals are being held to a higher standard to try and prevent injuries.

In September 2013, a swing ride at the Norwalk Oyster Festival failed, injuring 13 children, some seriously.

Det. Richard Gregory, along with the Connecticut State Police Fire and Explosion Investigative Unit, says they inspected that ride.

"There were no deficiencies noted on that particular ride that day. It was an internal mechanical failure that was not detected," says Gregory.

Gregory, who is responsible for inspecting carnival rides in the state, says there was a large gear inside of the motor that had broken off.

Because of that incident, Gregory says a nationwide bulletin went out to anyone who owns a ride like that, and the manufacturer came up with a new way to inspect it.

"They came up with an X-ray type of procedure to see the wear and tear on that ride that nobody could detect just visually," says Gregory.

Stewart Amusements in Trumbull, which owns the ride, told News 12 the issue was something that couldn't hve been detected.

News 12's investigation found there are no federal standards for ride safety, and a handful of states don't even have them. In Connecticut, carnival rides must be inspected by a state-certified structural engineer at the beginning of each season, and again by a state police detective and local building officials each time they set up in a new location.

The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission collects data on amusement park ride injuries through its National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. A survey from 2017 showed an estimated 43,000 injuries across the country from carnival rides, and 1,200 of those resulted in hospitalization or death. News 12 found no report of an major injuries in Connecticut.

Coleman Brothers in Middletown and Marenna Amusements in Orange say they have not had any major incidents in multiple decades in business.

Each carnival owner must also carry mandated state insurance.

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