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Carnival ride collapses in California; 23 injured

A carnival ride spinning with people collapsed at a Calif. county fair Friday night, injuring all 24 people aboard.
/ Source: The Associated Press

State investigators were trying to determine what caused a spinning carnival ride at a county fair to collapse and injure 23 people.

The carnival ride, called the Yo-Yo, collapsed shortly after 6 p.m. Friday at the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee, about 80 miles southeast of Sacramento, California.

The Yo-Yo ride has a series of metal arms extending from a center poll. A chair is attached to the end of each arm by a chain, and the arms and chairs swing outward as the machine spins and picks up speed.

The accident occurred when all of the arms and chairs suddenly collapsed, dragging the passengers on the ground until the machine finally came to a halt, according to witnesses.

"It was spinning in the air and then it just dropped," said Mark Pearson, 14. "It was all tangled and everything. Little kids were just laying there screaming. People were screaming, 'Oh my God, it's horrible!'"

All of the victims had been released from hospitals Saturday except for a 12-year-old girl listed in good condition and a 14-year-old girl in stable condition, according to Sgt. Dave Seawell of the Calaveras County Sheriff's Department.

There were no fatalities, said Laurie Giannini, the fairground's marketing director.

Authorities could not immediately determine what might have caused the accident. State investigators arrived on the scene Friday night to inspect the rides, and many of them were expected to reopen Saturday. The Yo-Yo will stay closed while officials investigate the accident, Malerbi said.

The Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee opened Wednesday and is held each year in late May. It was inspired by a Mark Twain story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," which focuses on a character and his jumping frog, named Dan'l Webster.

Last year's jumping frog contest drew 4,000 entries. This year's final is scheduled for Sunday.

The fairgrounds is just outside the Gold Rush-era town of Angels Camp in the Sierra Nevada foothills. It bills itself as an "old-fashion county fair" with exhibits and a variety of entertainment.