State investigating Glen Burnie carnival ride accident that injured girl


Investigators at the state Department of Elevator Safety are trying to determine the cause of an Aug. 7 accident at the Big Glen Burnie Carnival in which a 12-year-old Pasadena girl apparently was struck by a moving ride.

Rudy R. Gondeck, chief investigator for the department, which also regulates amusement rides, confirmed yesterday that the probe was started after officials learned that the girl had been taken to Harbor Hospital Center.

Joan Kaiss, 12, of the 100 block of Greenland Beach Road in Pasadena said she had just gotten off the Zipper ride when she felt a sharp pain across her back and was knocked to the ground.

She was taken to the emergency room of Harbor Hospital Center, where she was treated for injuries. She said yesterday that the result was "a burning feeling" for several days.

Her mother, Velinda Kaiss, said it appeared that the ride, an oval-shaped version of a Ferris wheel with whirling cages for its passengers, started before her daughter had a chance to get out of the way.

"It looked like there was some slippage in the machine," said Mrs. Kaiss, who added that the operator was letting people off and reloading the ride when the accident occurred.

"It looked like the brake didn't hold or something," she said.

A ride operator who quickly pulled Joan out of the way of the moving cars probably prevented further injury, her mother said, adding that two or three more cars whizzed by before the ride came to a halt.

James Swing of Brooklyn Park, a witness who has given a statement to the investigators, confirmed that the ride kept going, even though the girl had fallen in its path.

"She would have been seriously hurt if someone had not pulled her out of the way," he said in a telephone interview. "Two or three more cars came around."

And Joan said, "They don't usually start up a ride like that until everyone is off."

She said yesterday that she feels completely recovered 12 days after the accident, but she added, "It really scared me."

The Zipper and other carnival rides were operated that night by Shaw and Sons Inc., a Severn-based amusement rides operator.

Mr. Gondeck said he expects a report on the incident by the first week in September.

If investigators determine that the equipment was faulty or that operator error contributed to the accident, they could fine the company or impose stiffer sanctions, he said.

But he would not discuss what those sanctions might be.

"It doesn't usually come to that, though," said Mr. Gondeck, adding that sanctions most often involve fines.

Muriel Carter, president of the Glen Burnie Improvement Association, which sponsors the carnival, said that after the girl was taken to Harbor Hospital Center,carnival organizers were briefed on the accident by emergency medical technicians at the scene.

"I heard a lot of wild rumors about [the accident], including that someone had jumped off the top of the Zipper," Ms. Carter said.

"But based on what we were told, I did not believe it was very serious," she said.

Officials for Shaw and Sons could not be reached for com- ment.

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