2 hospitalized after incidents on amusement rides at Stony Plain rodeo

Rides at the Farmers’ Day festival in Stony Plain were shut down this weekend following two different incidents that caused injuries.

Brianne Garskey was left with around three dozen stitches and significant scrapes and bruises after an incident at a popular rodeo event on the outskirts of Edmonton Friday.

The 18-year-old was hospitalized after an incident around 10:30 p.m. at the Farmers’ Days Rodeo and Exhibition in Stony Plain.

Garskey was hurt on a ride five hours after a child was injured – and taken to hospital in stable condition – in a separate incident at the same Midway Rides section of the Farmers’ Days Rodeo.

Alberta Health Services would not confirm the nature and severity of the child’s injuries.

“I went to the hospital in an ambulance,” Garskey told CityNews Sunday. “Big scrape on my arm, shoulder, got a five- or six-inch slash with a two- to three-inch deep gash in my leg. I got 12 stitches, then two running stitches inside, so approximately 36 stitches in total.”

The travelling carnival was closed for the remainder of the three-day weekend event.

Garskey was on the “Hurricane” ride with Kaleb Starnes, who sustained a concussion. After getting onto the ride, they say they were asked to change seats because the ride needed to be balanced out.

“And as we were moving to the other seat, the ride started,” recounted Starnes. “Even the guy who was sorting people into the seats was still on the platform, and he got hit as well.”

Starnes described the ride as a platform where the seats move around like the famous chair swing ride, but inside of a cart.

“We were on the platform, so when it started to move, we weren’t in a seat where we could move along with it,” he said.

“So we were walking to another seat, and when it started up, the cart hit us, and we ended up falling on the mesh that surrounds it, which prevents people from falling off. And another cart ran both of us over, and the third one dragged us a little bit, then it threw us out.”

Hurricane ride, operated by Wild Rose Shows Inc. (Submitted by: Kimberly Weatherall)

‘Restraints did not go down’

Candice Kichton’s two daughters were on the ride at the same time. She says their restraints weren’t working and had to hold on for dear life while witnessing the incident unfold.

“They were screaming before they got the ride started, because the restraints did not go down,” said Kichton. “They called for the guy, they said they were fine. I feel like it was preventable.

“They were already in fear before they got the ride started.”

The Town of Stony Plain says the fire department responded to the site Friday and a ride was immediately closed “due to safety concerns.”

Stony Plain officials say they requested an inspection prior to opening Saturday morning, resulting in the closure of Midway Rides “due to unforeseen mechanical issues.”

“After careful assessment, it has been determined that these mechanical issues pose potential risks that could compromise the safety of the riders,” the town said in a statement on its website.

“The safety and well-being of our attendees are our utmost priorities, and therefore, we are taking this precautionary measure.”

Complaint about Hurricane last month

This isn’t the first time there have been concerns about the Hurricane.

A month ago, Alberta father Sean Weatherall says his two boys were on that very ride in St. Albert when the restraint system allegedly suddenly released. Both kids were able to jump off the ride before it started.

“Our boys screamed for help, and they were ignored by the operator,” Weatherall told CityNews. “And so my older of the two sons, he jumped off before it went up because he realized what was happening, and his nine-year-old brother followed him, thank goodness.

“And the operator actually screamed at my children for getting off, even though they could have been violently ejected from this ride had they stayed on.”

Weatherall describes his family as “amusement park lovers.” But after that incident they decided to keep away from pop-up, quick setup travelling carnivals.

“It can be dangerous,” he said. “I think there is less accountability with them as they just go from town to town.”

Alberta father Sean Weatherall with four of his five children. The two boys on the right were the ones involved in the Hurricane incident in May 2023. (Submitted by: Kimberly Weatherall)

Kichton is questioning if the incidents are truly mechanical in nature, or if human error came into play.

“Accidents happen, however as I read through some of these other incidents that have happened, I don’t think it’s mechanical in some ways,” she said. “And if it is mechanical, they aren’t doing the right checks in place.

“When I have a job, I have to be alert and aware and I think they have the same responsibility.”

Travelling rides only require inspection before first setup

The Alberta Elevating Devices Amusement Rides Safety Association (AEDARSA) told CityNews travelling carnivals are only required an inspection before the first setup each year.

“The frequency of inspection requires a safety codes officer to monitor for compliance every portable ride operated in Alberta within the first setup during each certificate of operation permit year to ensure the effectiveness of the owner’s ride safety program,” said Dean McKernon, vice-president of operations.

AEDARSA says it’s the responsibility of the owners of amusement rides “within or under their control to meet the requirements of the Safety Codes Act.”

The travelling amusement park rides used at Farmers’ Days Rodeo are operated by Wild Rose Shows Inc., which acknowledged the incident involved one of its rides.

“On Friday evening at the Stony Plain Exhibition Grounds we had an incident on a amusement ride,” Wild Rose Shows wrote on its Facebook page. “Our operations for the weekend were closed.

“Alberta Elevating Devices and Ride Safety Association will be conducting a full (sic) re inspection of all Amusement rides before we re open to the public. Safety is our (sic) #1 priority.”

AEDARSA says one ride involved will not operate again until a follow-up review “by the professional engineer who submitted and provided acknowledgement of compliance on the application for permit of operation in Alberta.”

Wild Rose Shows adds it will not re-open to the public until “all employees (are) retrained 100%.

“(sic) Wild rose shows inc has been in operation for 50 years we do our due diligence when issues arise, we have all documentation stating. We will have Aedarsa out to deal with all issues.”

Stony Plain says an investigation is ongoing.

Sign detailing closure of Midway Rides at Farmers’ Days Rodeo and Exhibition in Stony Plain. (Carly Robinson/CityNews)

All parties involved agree the situation could have been much worse.

“I’m thankful everybody is OK. It could have been very dangerous,” said Kichton.

“It could have gone so much differently, and I just hope they try to maintain the machines better, do more tests so it doesn’t happen again,” added Starnes.

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