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Paint-Covered Crack Blamed For Carnival Accident, Investigators Say

November 25, 1988

HALLANDALE, Fla. (AP) _ A paint-covered crack has been blamed for the collapse of a whirling, dipping carnival ride that killed a 17-year-old girl and injured six others, state investigators said.

An inspection of the ″Monster″ ride Thursday at the Broward County Fair showed that one of its six arms had collapsed at the spot of a tiny metal fracture, a crack that went unnoticed in previous inspections because it was painted over, said Wally Rich, director of the state’s Bureau of Fairs and Expositions. Rust under the paint indicted it had been there fore some time, he said today.

The on-site inspection showed no signs of negligence or improper inspection, however, he said.

With six inspectors and 1,161 carnival rides licensed in Florida last year, it’s unrealistic to expect inspections with the time and sophisticated equipment that would have been needed to detect the tiny crack, Rich said.

″It would be almost impossible for us to carry out a program of that magnitude,″ he said.

The broken arm and the arm opposite will be studied by a metallurgist at Florida Atlantic University, he said. His inspectors will sand-blast the other four arms to search for any other defects.

James E. Strates Shows, which owns and operates the Broward fair’s midway, purchased the 10-year-old ride in the early 1980s, according to the state investigators.

″We’re terribly sorry this thing happened,″ said Ben E. Braunstein, a spokesman for the Orlando-based Strates Shows. ″This was purely and simply an accident.″

Christie Schafale died of head injuries suffered in Wednesday’s accident. Her brother-in-law, Christopher Burch, 23, was hospitalized in stable condition with fractured ribs and chest injuries. Five others were treated for injuries.

Only hours after the accident, a shooting at a house where friends of Ms. Schafale had gathered left one youth dead and a second charged with murder, police said.

Peter Tersigni, 19, had been arguing with Sean Stemmerman, 18, and Stemmerman picked up a shotgun and aimed it at Tersigni’s chest, police said witnesses told them.

When Tersigni said, ″Go ahead, shoot me,″ Stemmerman fired, killing the youth, police said. Stemmerman was charged with first-degree murder Thursday and held without bail at the Broward County Jail.

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