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The BBC's Daniel Boettcher
"The fair grounds will remain closed"
 real 28k

Sunday, 28 May, 2000, 19:29 GMT 20:29 UK
Safety probe into fairground crashes

The fair has been closed as a mark of respect
Safety investigators are examining two fairground rides after two people were killed and three injured in two separate accidents.

It was like something out of a bad dream

Eyewitness Dave Brown

In one incident, in Shepherd's Bush Green, west London, on Saturday evening, a car from a fairground ride plunged to the ground, injuring its three occupants.

One of the passengers, Narelle Cozens, a 28-year-old Australian tourist, died later in hospital.

Meanwhile, investigations are continuing into the cause of a separate accident at a fairground in Cornwall in which a 12-year-old girl died.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) spokeswoman told BBC News Online fairground companies were responsible for ensuring safety levels were complied with.

Fairgound ride
Investigators are checking the ride

Both fairs will remain closed during the safety examinations.

All fairground rides must be inspected annually by the HSE, which served 26 prohibition notices in 1999 on fairground operators and demanded that they close until safety work was finished.

It prosecuted on five occasions.

Peter Cornall, water and leisure safety officer for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: "The onus is on the operators to carry out a proper risk assessment. If they haven't done something right, then they will be prosecuted."

Small travelling fairs have to be checked and provided with a licence by the local authority, he said, while larger theme parks are licensed by the HSE.

Mr Cornall added: "It is very hard to keep track of travelling fairs, but local authorities need to look very carefully at their system of checking them."

Eyewitness account

Lewis Gray, organiser of the Shepherd's Bush fair, said he was "devastated" by the tragedy.

He said his rides were officially checked by safety inspectors before fairground openings and were then checked daily by his own staff.

The London accident was witnessed by Dave Brown, a 29-year-old bus driver, who was standing just yards from the ride.

"The carriage was whizzing round and all of a sudden I saw it fly through the air, about 35ft or 40ft off the ground," he said.

"It landed right in the middle of a tent. At first I didn't know what to do then I ran over to help.

'In a very bad way'

"There were two men and a woman crushed inside of it. I definitely thought they were dead.

"They were unconscious for about 10 minutes while we pulled at the metal and tried to get them out.

"Then they started to wake up but they looked in a very bad way. The ambulances came soon after that. It was like something out of a bad dream."

In the earlier accident, Stacey Rowe was on a swinging gondola ride at a travelling fair in Redruth when she fell and landed on another girl on the ground.

Spate of accidents

She was rushed to Trelliske Hospital in nearby Truro but died of her injuries.

Her mother Helen Rowe said she felt as if her heart had been ripped out.

"I just can't believe it has happened," she said. "She was so full of life, she was a bright, lovely girl who always had lots of friends."

Devon and Cornwall Police said the girl on the ground, who was watching the ride, suffered minor injuries.

Both accidents follow a spate of incidents involving travelling fairgrounds.

There were 397 accidents on fairgrounds and amusement parks in 1998-99 but there were no fatalities.

Anyone who witnessed the Shepherds Bush accident is urged to call Hammersmith police station on 020 8563 1212.

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