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Maryland girl electrocuted by amusement ride

Summer is fair season in Maryland. As Maryland families flock to fairs and carnivals, summer sees a spike in personal injuries caused at carnivals, fairs, and amusement parks. In Maryland, the Department of Labor monitors and inspects amusement rides for safety.

In an average year, the Department of Labor inspects 44,000 rides. In 2010 and 2011, inspectors found 2,000 safety violations. Inspectors checked a ride called the Tornado at the Allegany County Fair and AgExpo in Cumberland. However, that did not prevent a 17-year-old girl from being electrocuted by the Tornado last weekend.

According to the girl's boyfriend, who witnessed the accident, the electrocution victim dropped her cell phone after exiting the ride. When she reached down to pick up her phone, she slipped and came into contact with a live electrical cable.

During the electrical shock, the 17-year-old girl could not scream for help or move. Her boyfriend recognized she was being electrocuted and the ride operator managed to free her from the cable.

Thankfully, she survived the electrocution, but she did suffer burn injuries to her hand and her arm. While she recovered in the hospital, medical staff needed to monitor her vital signs and her kidneys because electrical shocks can cause kidney problems.

A spokesman for the Department of Labor has stated that the ride was inspected 10 hours after the accident and that the inspector deemed the ride to be safe. An investigation into the accident is ongoing.

The outcome of the Department of Labor's investigation and other independent investigations will likely play an important role in finding out who is legally responsible for the accident. If it is found that this accident was the result of negligent operation and maintenance, then the owners and operators of the ride could be legally responsible for the accident. In addition, if the accident was caused by a design flaw or a product defect, then the manufacturers of the ride could be legally responsible.

Source: Cumberland Times-News, "Electrical shock cause of accident that injured Mt. Savage teen at fair," Emily Newman, 18 July 2011

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