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Several people hurt when Jacksonville Fair ride malfunctions

All injuries minor, happened on Sky Flyer ride, officials say

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Several people were hurt Saturday afternoon on a ride at the Jacksonville Agricultural Fair, according to the Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department.

Officials with the Jacksonville Fair said 20 people were on the Sky Flyer ride when it malfunctioned, causing minor injuries to some of the riders. There were adults and children on the ride when it malfunctioned. All injuries suffered occurred to the legs, according to fair officials.

The Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department said seven patients were transported for treatment, but others refused treatment, and all injuries appear minor.

A witness said he was in line to get on the ride when the malfunction happened, and he saw it all.

"Out of nowhere, we started hearing stuff like metal banging, and it was like, bang, bang, bang, bang, and we were like, 'What was that?' And then we just saw all the kids hit the gate. They were constantly hitting the gate, and they were screaming and crying. Parents were trying to stop the machine, and the guy who was running the machine he was like, 'Oh my God, oh my God,' and was trying to stop it by pressing the button. They were like, 'Turn it off, turn it off, turn the machine off,' but he couldn't do it."

Gayle Hart, with the Jacksonville Agricultural Fair, said, "This is so rare and we are hoping for a speedy recovery to those who have any injuries at all."

Mikayla Lopez, 9, is now using crutches to walk. She said her legs and thighs were bruised and scratched during the accident.

"We screamed and we cried, and the people didn't help. The people in the crowd helped," Mikayla said.

The ride consists of passengers sitting in swings held by cables that spin around in a circle.

"They were strapped into the chairs, and all the chairs were colliding," said Laurie Lopez-Kohn, Mikayla's mother.

Mikayla's cousin, 10-year-old Ka-Morah Finley, was also hospitalized after the ride, but her injuries are worse.

"She has a broken rib on her left side, as well as a collapsed lung, and it hurts for my baby to inhale and exhale," said Lakeria Finley, Ka-Morah's mother.

The girls' parents want answers for why the ride malfunctioned.

"Was this a ride that was already having problems? And now my baby is hurt, terrified, she won't go to theme parks anymore," Lopez-Kohn said.

"I will never be able to go to the fair or any amusement parks," Mikayla said. "That hurt me very much."

Although she's on crutches, Mikayla hopes her cousin, Ka-Morah, will be out of the hospital soon.

Finley said her daughter is expected to stay in the hospital overnight. They're not sure how long she will have to be there.

Both families said they plan on pressing charges.

The ride will be shut down while the malfunction is under investigation. The fair will remain open until 11 p.m. Saturday, then reopen Sunday from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m.

About the Authors:

Reports weeknights for The Ten O'Clock News and News4Jax at 11.