SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The Louisiana State Fire Marshal says an operator's failure to "de-energize" a kiddie ride at the State Fair of Louisiana contributed to the accident that left a four-year-old child critically injured, but that it was another four-year-child that actually caused the accident.
"S.J." Lewis remains in critical condition at LSU Hospital after becoming trapped between a car and a rotating platform in a children's amusement ride at the fair on Wednesday. Rescuers had to use the "jaws of life" to cut the boy free.
State Fire Marshal H. "Butch" Browning says the purpose of their investigation was to determine the cause of the accident, and that it is not within their purview to issue any citations. The State Fire Marshal's office is responsible for ride safety and inspections.
Browning says the most recent inspections of the ride showed that it was up-to-date and safe to operate, and the accident was not caused by any malfunction. The ride operator, Browning says, should have removed the key from the control panel of the ride, and did not. This allowed another child in the group to start the ride up before all the children were off the platform.
"Had the ride not been energized, that unauthorized person would not have been able to operate the ride," Browning says.
"We believe it was not a malicious act, it was a childish act," Browning said at a news conference Monday morning. He met with Lewis' parents before releasing the findings of the investigation to the public, in order to allow them a chance to ask questions. Asked at the news conference whether they had indicated any interest in holding the child or the operator responsible, Browning said they were "not worried about that, we're worried about our child recovering." And that, Browning says, "was a remarkable testament."
The ride will undergo repairs for damage caused in the process of the rescue before it can be re-inspected and deemed safe for operation.