LANGLEY, WA A man working on a carnival ride at the Island County Fair was killed Saturday after a roller coaster pulled him into the air by his hair and then dropped him from as high as 40 feet onto a fence.
The accident happened on what is traditionally the busiest day of the fair at one of its most populated locations, said Island County Sheriff Mike Hawley.
|McKay's long hair was caught by the cable that supports the ride.|
He said dozens of children and adults were treated for shock after watching the accident.
Doug McKay, 40, of Post Falls, Idaho, was apparently lubricating the track of the doughnut-shaped Super Loop 2 roller coaster ride when his long hair was caught by the cable that supports the ride, said Jan Smith, a spokeswoman for the Island County Sheriff's Department.
McCay was pulled 25 to 40 feet into the air and then fell, landing on his lower back on a fence, she said.
"He appears to have died immediately on impact," Smith said.
McKay was seen dodging the cars several times while lubricating the ride.
|Twelve-year-old Dylan Volz was on the ride when the accident occurred, and said that it looked to him like McKay was caught by his arm, not his hair.|
Once the ride stopped, Dylan said he got off as fast as he could.
"I just put my hands up over my eyes and walked away," he said. "No one should have to see that."
He said he and the other kids on the ride talked to counselors after they got off the ride, and added that it helped quite a bit.
"I had a lot of people ask me if I was OK," he said.
McKay was co-owner of Paradise Amusements, a Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, company that has been traveling to festivals for more than 40 years. The company offers rides ranging from Tilt-A-Whirl to Paratrooper to an old-fashion Ferris wheel.
In an apparent bid to keep the family business alive, McKay had recently taken over the company from his father, Robert McKay, who had just retired.
Other witnesses said Doug McKay's death was hard to take for Island County carnival workers and fairgoers alike.
Grethe Cammermeyer, a former Vietnam War nurse who was at the fair to staff the county's Democratic Party booth, said she arrived at just after the accident.
One of the first things she saw was a grief-stricken carnival worker who said he was operating the Super Loop 2 ride when McKay died. He told Cammermeyer he had just watched his best friend die.
Cammermeyer said she also met up with some of the kids who were on the roller coaster when the accident happened.
"To have it witnessed by young kids out to have a good time is something that they will never, ever, ever forget," she said. "One girl was just devastated. She used my cell phone to call her dad."
Craig Brant, also working the Democrats' booth, said he didn't see the accident. But when he left the fairgrounds to go home, there was a group of uniformed carnival workers "huddled in the parking lot."
"Some of them were crying," Brant said. "They said their boss had been killed. And all the rides were stopped and shut down." Hawley said his office is conducting an investigation on the accident, and said the state Department of Labor and Industries is also investigating.
The carnival was closed after the accident, and there was no word on whether the rides would run again today.
Although live music and other activities around the carnival were shut down for four hours on Saturday, Hawley said fair organizers told him that all noncarnival activities would continue today, the last day of the fair.
Cammermeyer said the fairgrounds were quiet for most of the day, but that festivities had started to pick up again by 8 p.m.
"It's more than a little eerie," she said.