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A bill filed by state Rep. James Arciero filed to increase the safety of mobile amusement rides at carnivals, recently had a public hearing before the Joint Committee on Public Safety at the State House.
The legislation, House Bill 3727: An Act relative to the safety of mobile amusement equipment; was filed on behalf of the Janko family of Westford following an incident on a carnival ride at the 2018 Apple Blossom Festival.
Last year, then 11-year-old Ava Janko and a friend were riding the Zipper ride at the carnival when she went unconscious and was severely injured during the remainder of the ride.
This injury was caused by the lack of any type of safety harness or seat belt on this ride and her being tossed about as the ride continued for several minutes. Her friend was unable to communicate to the ride operator to stop the ride due to the noise at the carnival.
As a result of the accident, Janko was unable to feel her legs or walk, and was ultimately diagnosed with functional neurological disorder as a result of accident. The Zipper ride does not have a typical seat, but rather riders lean against a bump out in the wall and brace themselves with hand grips.
“Our legislation seeks to start a conversation of how best to protect children and families who go on amusement park rides at fairs and carnivals” said Arciero during his testimony before the committee.
The bill calls for the requirement of either a seat belt or safety harness on all mobile carnival rides, as well as stiff fines to be levied by the Massachusetts Department of Consumer Protection for non-compliance. The bill would also clarify and codify as law current regulations that used amusement ride equipment which is sold on the secondary market be in compliance with all safety regulations when brought back into use.
“It is our goal to ensure the safety of not only our young people, but of adults as well, who use these rides for entertainment purposes. I hope this bill will pass and that no other child will ever have to go through what Ava and the Janko family had to experience,” concluded Arciero.
In a wheelchair for several months after the incident, Ava eventually regained feeling in her legs and the ability to walk again. This recovery followed many medical appointments, intense physical therapy sessions three times a week and other at home exercises. These therapies were aimed at triggering Ava’s brain to remember how to send commands through her nervous system to her legs.
The bill will now be review by the membership of the Joint Committee on Public Safety which will have to make a decision on the bill by March of next year, before the measure advances in the legislative process.