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Riders may have caused Port Townsend Ferris wheel accident, company president says

The two women and a 7-year-old boy who tumbled out of an amusement-park ride in Port Townsend had just been warned to stay in their seats, according to the president of Funtastic Rides. One woman is in serious condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

The three people who fell out of a gondola on a Ferris wheel in Port Townsend on Thursday may have caused the accident by moving around or standing while the ride was in motion, according to the president of the company that owns the equipment.

A 59-year-old woman was critically injured when she fell 12 feet to the deck of The Phoenix Wheel, a 40-foot-tall ride at the Rhododendron Festival, around 6 p.m., said Ron Burback, president of Funtastic Rides, based in Oregon.

She was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center, where she was in serious condition Friday, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

The two other occupants of the ride, a woman in her 40s and a 7-year-old boy, were treated and released from a hospital, Burback said. They fell about 15 feet to a grassy area adjacent to the ride, he said.

The women and boy were inside a gondola at the 7 o’clock position, with the ride moving counterclockwise when the car flipped over, spilling the occupants, Burback said. The Phoenix Wheel, which rotates both clockwise and counterclockwise, has 18 small gondolas that can each comfortably fit three people.

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“It’s a horrific accident,” he said. “For something like this to happen is extremely rare.”

The company has hired an independent ride inspector.

Burback said from what he’s learned so far, the three injured riders were warned by the operator to remain seated during the Ferris wheel’s previous rotation.

“We know at…

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