2 women and boy injured in fall from Ferris wheel in Port Townsend; one critical

PORT TOWNSEND, Wash. -- Two women and a 7-year-old boy were injured Thursday when they were ejected from a Ferris wheel and plunged 15-18 feet to the metal deck below, said Bill Beezly, East Jefferson Fire & Rescue public information officer.

A 59-year-old woman suffered fractures and head injuries and was airlifted to Seattle's Harborview Medical Center, where a hospital official said she was in critical but stable condition.

A 47-year-old woman and 7-year-old boy were also injured but not as seriously and were taken to a hospital in Port Townsend, authorities said.

The accident occurred at Port Townsend's annual Rhododendron Festival carnival at Memorial Field.

Beezly said it appears the Ferris wheel bucket the three people were in spun around for some reason, throwing the trio out.

He said they were waiting for investigators to arrive to begin inspecting the ride.

The Ferris wheel was immediately shut down and taped off, but the rest of the carnival continued to go on.

Brandi Hamon, vice president of the festival, choked up as she read a festival statement in which she said the organizers would "like to ask everyone to please pray for the victims in today's carnival accident. This was a tragic event."

Asked later why she began choking up when reading the statement, festival president Debbie LaFollette stepped in and said both of them had their own children on the Ferris wheel at the time and had to watch, fearfully, as each of the buckets were slowly unloaded after the accident.

The Funtastic Carnival Traveling Shows is the owner/operator company that contracted out to the festival and runs the Ferris wheel along with the other rides.