Ride will reopen after accident leaves teen in critical condition

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October 27, 2006

A popular ride at the Georgia-Carolina State Fair in Augusta will reopen after an investigation shows the ride was working properly when a 13-year-old girl was slung from the ride Thursday night.

Desire Northington is in critical condition at the Children's Medical Center at MCG.

State ride inspectors spent today trying to find out what went wrong.

They shut down the Orbiter right after Desire was slung from the ride.

Desire's grandmother, Beverly Biddings, got a call telling her to get to the Georgia-Carolina State Fair immediately.

"I said, 'Oh no,'" she told News 12. "I said, 'Where is she at? Tell me what part of the fair to go to,' and I said, 'Oh God no.'"

The Orbiter has signs warning of extreme velocity. Riders spin in the air while the ride is elevated. According to Desire's best friend, they were on the popular ride together.

"They said the ride was going extremely fast and it was whipping," Biddings said.

Desire met height and weight requirements.

During the ride, somehow, Desire slipped under the lap bar.

"Her friend said she tried to catch her by her pants and she couldn't, and she said it sucked her out," said Biddings.

Witnesses say Desire was slung 20 feet in the air before falling and hitting a pole at a neighboring ride called the Spyder.

Her grandmother says the teen has massive head injuries.

"They operated and put a tube in her head to relieve the pressure. She hasn't responded yet."

Beverly Biddings says she wants to be there when her granddaughter wakes up.

This afternoon the state ride inspectors found nothing wrong with the ride or the operation of the ride. The ride was inspected and certified before the fair began. It has been reinspected and recertified.

The bar was fully operational and the investigation found it did not malfunction.

Fair managers tell News 12 they talked with the manufacturer of the Orbiter last night. They said the ride was developed in the 1930's, and they have never had an incident of ejecting a patron.