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State revokes permit for Ferris wheel from which 3 fell

Two women and a 7-year-old boy were injured after falling more than 15 feet from a Ferris wheel in Port Townsend Thursday night. (Photo: KOMO News)

PORT TOWNSEND, Wash. - The State Department of Labor and Industries has revoked the permit for the Ferris wheel at the Rhododendron Festival in Port Townsend, after three people fell 15 feet from the ride Thursday night.

A photograph captured a rider’s terrifying experience.

“[It was] traumatizing,” said Dusty Janke-Call, a rider on the Ferris wheel Thursday, said. “I thought we were going to flip.”

Janke-Call, her boyfriend and their young daughter were on the Ferris wheel Thursday evening sitting in the yellow bucket seat, pictured above. Her boyfriend heard something in the seat right below them.

“He heard grinding noises right as it was happening," Janky-Call said. "I heard something fall."

Witnesses say the purple bucket flipped and a 59-year-old woman, a 47-year-old woman and her 7-year-old boy fell 15 feet onto the metal platform below.

The 59-year-old woman has been identified as Shawn Swartwood. The 47-year-old woman and her 7 year old boy have been identified as Crystal and Mikhail Groth.

“It swung our cart sideways and got stuck under our cart. I thought I was going to flip us as well,” Janke-Call said.

Janke-Call's boyfriend was also hurt. He suffered a concussion.

“Their cart flipped up. It came up. It hit nick in the back of the head,” Janke-Call said.

On Friday, both state and federal inspectors checked out the Ferris wheel.

Preliminary results from an independent state ride inspector, hired by operator Funtastic, indicate no mechanical failure.

At least one witnesses said it appeared that the injured riders may have been leaning out of the bucket seat. Janke-Call says otherwise.

“I don’t think they weren’t doing anything but sitting there," she said. "They didn’t start to move or shake until the whole cart was shaking. And it happened so fast."

The inspector KOMO News talked to said it’s too early to say what exactly happened.

The 47-year-old woman and her son have been released from the hospital. The 59-year-old woman is still at Harborview and is in satisfactory condition, as of Friday night.

In April 2009, six people, four of them children, were hurt on Funtastic a Lolli Swing fell over at the Puyallup Spring Fair. The ride had passed its yearly inspection just two days earlier. Investigators blamed the accident on rain-soaked ground.


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