The St. Theresa Feast was packed on the evening of Saturday, July 25 when a mini-roller coaster for children derailed, sending 11 to the hospital. The next day, Archbishop Timothy Dolan the feast he feast to pray for the injured and show his support for the church and its biggest annual fundraiser.
“The Dragon Wagon” ride had six-cars derail when a defective weld gave way and its track was thrown off balance. According to eyewitnesses, parents of children on the ride rushed to reach them before paramedics could evaluate the injured; the 11 people dangled 3 or 4 feet off the ground.
The ride was one of 14 at the feast operated by Pennsylvania-based Tri-Star Amusements, and was certified in a check by the Department of Buildings on Wednesday, July 22.
“The department determined that a defective weld was the cause of the accident,” said Caroline Sullivan, DOB spokeswoman. “The ride was inspected on Wednesday, July 22 and determined to be satisfactory. After the accident, the department issued a violation for ‘failure to maintain’ the ride to Tri-Star Amusements.”
According to sources, the DOB determined that one weld on the outside track of the coaster cracked. Further investigation with Office of Emergency Management found three other minor weld cracks on the same ride, a source said.
Tri-Star Amusements also provides carnival rides for Our Lady of Mount Carmel feasts. The Philadelphia-based company could not be reached for comment as of press time.
The ride was removed soon after the accident, and the final day of the feast went on as planned on Sunday, July 26.
Archbishop Dolan joined St. Theresa’s pastor Fr. Robert Grippo on the final day of the feast, spending close to two hours with the parishioners. Grippo spent much of the night at the hospital, until the last Dragon Wagon rider was released.
St. Theresa Avenue residents Gene and Lorraine Traynor said that police reacted instantly to get the street clear of feast-goers so emergency vehicles could get to the injured children and adults near Pilgrim Avenue.
“There was a rush of cops coming down the block from Westchester Avenue, clearing the street to get rescue vehicles through,” Gene Traynor said. “The people in the street were orderly.”
“Thank God that the kids were not hurt in any serious way. There were some bangs and bruises,” Lorraine Traynor said. “No one was thrown from the ride.”
©2009 Community News Group