STATE FAIR: Ride safety a top priority after stuck Stratosphere - KMSP-TV

STATE FAIR: Ride safety a top priority after stuck Stratosphere

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Fairgoers who favor a bit of thrill-seeking won't be getting stuck on the Stratosphere this year because the Minnesota State Fair has replaced the ride that literally left people hanging.

To add some extra peace of mind, a team of inspectors will scrutinize the rides and perform random checks each day -- but when it comes to staying safe at the fair, personal responsibility also plays a part and riders are urged to read the directions and the rules before strapping in.

Crews spent much of Monday building the Magnum with care and precision. It's one of 80 rides that will be featured at this year's fair.

"We're going to be looking at the foam to make sure it's not damaged at all," assured Joe Bixler.

Bixler, along with his team, works to ensure everything is -- and stays -- safe for fairgoers.

"All rides get a 100 percent inspection and then we do random checks," he affirmed.

After the 180-foot Stratosphere swing ride stopped with people still on board last year, the State Fair has been working to make sure a similar debacle doesn't happen again. No one was hurt by the sky-high stalls and the right may have made a comeback if the owner hadn't sold it.

Now, the much-anticipated Air Raid will take its place.

"Eventually, the arms will swing back and forth and do a 360," Bixler said.

While it's extremely rare, the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that, on average, there are 4 to 5 deaths per year on amusement rides nationwide. Just last month, a woman died after falling out of a roller coaster in Texas.

No one has died on a ride at the Minnesota State Fair, and organizers plan to keep it that way. Injuries do happen, but fair officials say they are minor -- often related to sips, trips and falls.

When it comes to staying safe on the rides, operators like Joyce Hutchins say it's important to stick to the rules even if taking a risk seems tempting.

Fairgoers are also encouraged to report anything that seems amiss.

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