CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- An employee operating a ride at the West Virginia State Fair over the weekend is in critical condition following an accident, fair officials confirmed.
Adolfo Dominguez, 25, of Mexico, was operating "The Speed" ride at around 10:45 p.m. Saturday, when he stepped into the path of the ride and was hit in the face by one of the attraction's cars, according to the company that owns the ride.
Dominguez works for Reithoffer Shows Inc., based in Gibsonton, Fla.
Mindy Kolbus, risk manager for Reithoffer, said Dominguez was flown from the scene to Charleston Area Medical Center, where he underwent surgery to relieve pressure on his brain and for a facial fracture.
"We've been in touch with his family and we have a bilingual nurse assigned to his case," she said. "They said it's normal that he wouldn't be responding at this time because of the sedation he's under."
"The Speed," made by KMG of the Netherlands, has two arms, and at the end of each arm hangs a gondola for four persons. The arm revolves at 13 revolutions per minute, in which the passenger experiences 3.5 times the force of gravity. The height of this machine is about 125 feet, according to KMG's website.
"We've come to the fair for about 20 years and never had anyone had to be airlifted out," Kolbus said. "It was very traumatic for everyone in the area. We're praying for the best."
Marlene Pierson-Jolliffe, manager of the fair, said the accident was the result of operator error and no one else was injured. She said the ride was disassembled after the incident, and the weeklong State Fair has since closed for the year.Reach Kate White at kate.wh...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.