Aerial Circus Equipment Collapses During South Carolina State Fair, Narrowly Missing Spectators

by Kati Kuuseoks
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Experts call the “Wheel of Death” one of the most dangerous acrobatic acts there is. Less commonly referred to as the “Space Wheel,” the apparatus looks like a giant dumbbell with hamster wheels at both ends. The whole thing rotates, as do the hamster wheels. Acrobats perform their trick from either or both ends. While it’s been featured all over the world, the attraction recently found itself part of the South Carolina State Fair’s happenings.

The “Wheel of Death” drew in a large crowd of excited onlookers and families here, but things didn’t go according to plan. In fact, something went horribly wrong. It mirrored the near-fatal mishap on America’s Got Talent recently. Thankfully, no one here sustained any injury. What did happen is that the aerial circus equipment collapsed mid-show. One performer took a tumble and the equipment narrowly missed spectators. Witnesses caught the scary moment on video, which you can see below.

South Carolina State Fair Attendees Voice Safety Concerns

One spectator unexpectedly caught the scary moment of the “Wheel of Death” collapse on video while trying to record the circus show. Audible gasps and screams fill the circus tent as the equipment comes crashing down. Luckily, wiring sees the equipment “boomerang” back and results in an audience shocked, but uninjured. You can watch the footage here:

State Fair representatives commented on the accident, saying a detached bolt from the big wheel is to blame. Attendees of the South Carolina State Fair immediately grew concerned at the possibility that the rest of the fair might not be as safe as they thought either.

The fair’s general manager, Nancy Smith, tried to ease their worries. She says that the staff was immediately placed under “high alert” to thoroughly inspect equipment across the rest of the grounds.

“The gentleman that was on that big wheel was able to jump off. All safety precautions were in place, and nobody was hurt,” Smith says of the freak accident. “The folks in the circus, they are their own company, and they have been in this circus business for years and years. They carry extra equipment with them, and they do the inspections as well.”

How Safe Are Fair Rides?

Freak accidents don’t happen often, but they do happen. It’s in the name, after all. Especially in the aftermath of the South Carolina State Fair incident, you might be wondering: how safe are fair rides? Well, this is what one California law firm has to say.

A study from Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that children under the age of 18 sustain approximately 4,400 injuries a year in amusement parks. Nearly 70% of these accidents occur during the summer months, which happens to be fair season. Fair staff say most of these injuries are preventable by following height requirements and wearing closed-toed shoes.

Supposedly, traveling fair rides can actually be safer than stationary ones at amusement parks. This is because they go up and come down multiple times a year, meaning (potentially) more safety checks are required.

Apparently, California also has some of the strictest fair inspection guidelines in the US. 

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