At least three people, including a child, were seriously injured after falling 30 feet from a Ferris wheel at the Rhododendron Festival in Port Townsend on Thursday night.
A 69-year-old woman, a woman in her 40s and her 6-year-old child were airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for their injuries. Harborview officials said the 69-year-old woman is in critical condition.
“The Rhododendron Festival would like to ask for everyone to please pray for all the victims in today’s carnival accident,” read a statement from the Jefferson County Rhododendron Festival. “This was a tragic event and our thoughts and prayers are with all involved.”
The ride made a grinding sound and something appeared to fall out, witnesses told Port Townsend police. The cart slowly tipped over and dumped the passengers.
They tried to hold on, but fell violently, hitting the wheel near the 20-feet mark, police said.
People on the scene said it appeared a pin or section came off the wheel, but it’s unclear what exactly fell out from the ride.
Responders were told the cart was faulty, and the after-hours number for the State Department of Labor and Industries was called. A crew with the state Department of Labor and Industries is investigating whether a part detached from the ride.
The operators, from Portland-based Funtastic Traveling Shows, did not appear to notice immediately.
“Thank you to all the volunteers and employees that stepped up out of the crowd to make sure the victims were attended to and the incident was controlled,” the Rhododendron Festival read.
A fourth person refused treatment on scene, but it’s unclear whether that person fell out of the Ferris wheel.
Celebrated the third week each May, the Rhody Festival in Port Townsend is a community tradition dating back to 1935.
Port Townsend police are investigating the incident.