Matthew Nungent said his son was riding “The Storm” when he was thrown from the ride and then hit by it. He said the boy was then thrown into a fence.
“It’s pretty horrific, really,” Nungent said. “It was brutal to watch and not have any control or be able to prevent it. When I got to him I expected the worst, but he’s a very lucky kid to come out.”
Photos obtained by Nexstar’s WRIC showed the boy receiving first aid at the scene. He was taken to the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center Trauma Center where he remained for more than 12 hours.
“He had a huge gash on the back of his leg that required him to be sedated so they could irrigate and stitch it back up,” Nungent said. “He also has a fractured foot and several scrapes and burns.”
The family’s attorney, David Silek, elaborated on the boy’s injuries.
“His foot was broken, he’s in a cast,” Silek said. “His left leg was severely lacerated, exposing muscle tissue that required surgical intervention.”
Days after the incident, questions still remain about the safety of the ride and the moments leading up to the injury.
According to the incident report, a complete inspection of the ride found that “there were no mechanical and/or operator errors that did not comply with the manufacturer’s specifications or the governing code.”
“It doesn’t make sense at all,” Silek said. “If the apparatus had functioned properly, he wouldn’t have slid out of the seat and down. The force of the ride is what caused his body to go down and if the leg brace had been fully secured … he couldn’t have moved.”
While inspectors found the ride was in compliance, WRIC learned that the height requirement on the ride was raised from 51 inches to 56 inches after the incident.
When asked if this change indicated the victim might have been too short, the inspector directed questions to the ride’s manufacturer, Deggeller Attractions.
Deggeller is “America’s #1 Carnival company,” with an “emphasis on safety,” according to the company’s own website,
WRIC received no answer after repeated calls to the number on the company’s website.
“It’s interesting that they changed their height requirement the next day,” Silek said. “They clearly realized a child of this size shouldn’t be on the ride.”
The Nungents said their son is recovering physically but that the family wants accountability and more safety protocols.
“All rides at the state fair need to be calibrated for height and weight,” Silek said. “Certain children, if they’re petite or small in size, that leg brace needs to come down to match the legs where they are to make sure they’re secure. Ride personnel need to make sure that all children are safely secured.”