PNE temporarily closes ride following deadly accident at U.S. fair
The Pacific National Exhibition has decided to close one of its rides for additional inspections the day after a similar attraction broke down in Columbus, Ohio, killing one person and injuring several others.
Every ride at the PNE and Playland is inspected twice daily by ride technicians, according to spokesperson Laura Ballance, but The Beast was shut down voluntarily on Thursday so crews could perform extra checks.
"Guest safety is the number one priority each and every day," Ballance told CTV News.
"We are very confident in this ride and the safety of this ride but it doesn't hurt to do some supplemental testing in light of what's happened."
The Beast, manufactured by Netherlands-based KMG, spins chairs of people in a circle while simultaneously swinging them left to right on a giant pendulum.
Fire Ball, a similar ride sold by the same company, malfunctioned on the opening day of the Ohio State Fair on Wednesday. One rider died and seven others were injured after the attraction broke apart, sending people flying through the air.
Three of the survivors were taken to hospital in critical condition.
Ballance noted there is a difference between permanent attractions like The Beast and the kinds of rides offered at travelling fairs, which are repeatedly assembled and disassembled as they move from location to location.
"This ride was purchased new from the manufacturer. It was shipped directly to Playland. It was assembled on site with our ride technicians in conjunction with the actual manufacturer," she said.
Ballance couldn't confirm when The Beast will reopen, only that it will happen when the PNE is "100 per cent confident" in its safety.
"Playland has an exceptional ride safety record because of that dedication to doing what's right, not necessarily what's quickest," she said.
Apart from two daily inspections, every ride at the PNE and Playland is subject to an annual inspection by the B.C. Safety Authority and two annual inspections by a third-party contractor.
Playland isn't the only amusement park to respond with an abundance of caution to Wednesday's tragedy. Edmonton's K-Days fair shut down its own Fire Ball ride Thursday, and the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto announced it will not be featuring the ride at its upcoming fair in August.
North American Midway Entertainment, a company that provides rides to various fairs in the U.S. and Canada, including K-Days and the CNE, said it would not be operating Fire Ball rides "until further notice from the manufacturer for precautionary safety measures."
The company is not affiliated with the Ohio State Fair.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Shannon Paterson