8 On Your Side Investigates broke the story of a zip line mistake that sent a 10-year-old Florida boy plunging to the ground at an indoor amusement park in Lakeland. That horrific incident sparked our investigation into the safety of rides.
We’ve learned there are only 17 people in charge of inspecting the more than 230 amusement parks, fairs and traveling shows in the state. Now, 8 On Your Side is digging into who is inspecting the inspectors.
We’ve obtained preliminary accident reports from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Department oversees the Bureau of Fair Rides Inspection.
In a span of two years, more than 300 people went to the hospital after being hurt at one of these amusement parks or traveling shows.
The majority of these incidents were minor in nature and would not have been prevented by an inspection.
However, 8 On Your Side did spot serious accidents during 2018 and 2019.
According to the Department of Agriculture’s preliminary reports, a roller coaster derailed on June 14, 2018, in Daytona Beach. Police reported that four patrons were ejected.
There was another serious accident that same year in Jacksonville.
On Nov. 10, 2018, the “Sky Flyer” ride at the Jacksonville Fair malfunctioned reportedly sending seven people to the hospital.
The Department of Agriculture states there are just 17 people in charge of inspecting every go-kart, water park and amusement park outside of big parks like Disney or Universal.
Florida’s major theme parks are allowed to inspect themselves.
8 On Your Side has learned no one has audited the work of inspectors in approximately 20 years.
According to a Department of Agriculture spokesman, an audit hasn’t been necessary since there have been few complaints.
8 On Your Side is continuing to look into this issue.
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