DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – This weekend millions of North Texans will visit the State Fair of Texas, enjoying all the fried food and rides the iconic festival has to offer.
CBS 11 News gained access to an inspection of all 73 rides to ascertain whether or not they’re safe.
“We just inspect everyday and if you don’t let the little things go you’re going to find success,” said State Fair Ride Inspector, Rusty Fitzgerald, who leads a team of five inspectors.
The State Fair gets the biggest and best rides that can be transported. But that hasn’t made it immune to accidents and injuries. Thus inspections are necessary to keep fair goers safe.
“How often do you find problems on a ride? You could go around right now and see these rides being set up right now and find 1 or 2 small details that need to be corrected,” said Fitzgerald.
But it wasn’t a minor problem that left Paige Gomez trapped atop the Stratosphere two years ago.
“It was like a freak show seeing everyone praying, crying, laughing,” said Gomez.
The 21-year-old was among 24 people whose ride turned into a nightmare when the 200-foot high ride with swings broke down and a cable to lower them malfunctioned.
“I thought it was going to drop,” said Gomez.
No one was hurt during the incident, but it left a lasting impression on inspectors who spent Tuesday examining every bolt on 73 rides.
Last year’s gruesome death on the Texas Giant at Six Flags Six was a wake up call to ride operators such as Blake McDonagh.
He keeps a close eye not only on his machines, but also his workers.
“Drug testing on all the employees make sure everyone’s got a clean record,” said McDonagh.
Inspectors didn’t find any major issues during Tuesday’s inspections and insisted the State Fair has the highest standards.
But inspections aren’t fool proof as Gomez knows too well. This year will mark her first trip back to the fair since that unforgettable night.
“I didn’t want to go to the State Fair last year since I was creeped out… but I’m going this year but mainly for the food. I think I’m going to ride just a little bit,” said Gomez.
Inspectors offer the following advice for people waiting in line to get on a ride.
If you see light bulbs out and a lot of rust those are signs of poor maintenance.
(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
[display-posts category=”news,sports” wrapper=”ul” posts_per_page=”5″]