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Federal Agency Urges Inspections Of ‘Gravitron’ Rides Nationwide

August 30, 1991

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Federal regulators have urged shutdowns and inspections of ″Gravitron″ rides like the one that fell apart at the Missouri State Fair and injured seven children last week.

The nationwide notice, issued Thursday by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, did not contain a ruling by the commission on the cause of the Aug. 20 accident in Sedalia.

The commission has been investigating the accident and reached preliminary conclusions that some design defects may have played a part.

The barrel-shaped Gravitron, manufactured by Wisdom Manufacturing of Colorado, is made up of vertical panels. Forty-five riders enter the circle and stand against backboards on tracks, three people to a panel.

As the Gravitron spins, the centrifugal force raises the riders on the backboards. In the accident at the State Fair, one of the panels broke loose at the bottom, throwing three riders out and injuring other people inside and outside the ride with debris.

In its notice the Consumer Products Safety Division said the Gravitron may contain ″various critical areas which may have played a role in the accident.″

The notice was sent to registered owners of the rides, as well as to those states that regulate and inspect carnival rides. It was advisory only and carried no enforcement power.

″In the interest of rider safety, you should not operate any Gravitron ride until a thorough inspection is conducted,″ wrote Marc Schoem, director of the commission’s Division of Corrective Action in Washington.

The notice urged Gravitron owners to inspect several areas, including pins holding the sections of the ride together and ″suspect welds.″

″Until the precise cause of the Missouri accident can be determined, we believe rider safety demands such action,″ Schoem wrote.

Three 12-year-old riders from Sedalia remain hospitalized with injuries they suffered when they were thrown from the ride. Four other children who were hurt by debris were treated and released.

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