Augusta man says fair rides accidents waiting to happen

By: Kate Tillotson
By: Kate Tillotson

October 27, 2006

13-year-old Desire Northington is still in critical condition after she fell off the Orbiter ride at the Georgia-Carolina State Fair last night.

The ride has since been inspected and is deemed safe for this weekend...but one Augusta man questions that. He says rides like these are accidents waiting to happen.

Don Gilman first learned about the fair ride fall by watching News 12 First at Five. He says it brought back some bad memories.

The same thing happened to Don's brother. The ride was called the Octopus, and it put the 25-year-old man into a coma.

"He got thrown - I don't know how many feet it was - but he got thrown quite a good distance before he hit the ground," Don recalls.

Don's brother Stephan is a grown man...but due to a faulty fair ride similar to the Orbiter, he sustained several injuries to his back and spine.

"I just feel for this Desire," Don told News 12. "They're saying she's probably small and she got thrown out of it too, and my brother was a complete adult."

The ride warns of extreme velocity. A number of arms support clusters of cars, or seats for passengers, that are lifted and spun in different directions.

Since Desire's fall, state inspectors have found nothing wrong with the ride and say the accident must have been a result of human error.

Don, who's not only a victim's brother but also a father of two, is not convinced.

He says he won't allow his children to be sent into orbit.

"We still believe in amusement parks and rides and stuff," he said. "But we look at a ride and we feel whether it's safe or not."

We did speak with Don's brother Stephan. He lives in New Hampshire, which is where his accident happened.

His case is different than little Desire's. Because the ride he was on was deemed faulty, he did receive a settlement as a result of his injuries.

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
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