Colorful, exciting rides await those who attend the Kern County Fair.

Felix Adamo / The Californian

A young girl was injured at the Kern County Fair on Sunday while riding the Starship 3000 carnival ride. 

According to turnto23.com, Angel Sovell, 11, suffered a concussion and was treated with two staples to her head. 

Butler Amusements Inc., which operates the midway rides, issued a statement to The Californian saying the ride shows no malfunction in the operation or seating.

It said Sovell was injured on the ride after it began when she climbed up the seat, which is against the posted rules. Sovell was injured when the seat, as designed, rolled up the wall, causing her to hit her head on the ceiling of the ride. 

"We regret that a customer was injured," Butler Amusements said in its statement. "We would like to remind customers to please follow posted rules for each ride to ensure their safe enjoyment."

However, Jason Herrera, of the nonprofit Amusement Safety Organization, which has been tracking self-reported amusement ride injuries nationwide since 2000, said when injuries occur on amusement rides, it may point to flaws in the design of the ride itself.

"What we have learned is this," Herrera said in an email. "All the inspections cannot and will not take into account the forces on your body. A ride operating as it should be may cause me a broken arm. You, however, an exhilarating experience. Does that mean the ride is safe or unsafe?

"To you the inspection process works," he said. "To me, not so much."

Butler Amusements said an additional inspection of the ride will be performed by the California Department of Industrial Health and Safety, or Cal-OSHA.

All of Butler Amusements' rides are inspected and permitted on an annual basis by state inspectors, and many of the rides have been inspected multiple times by independent inspectors and inspections mandated by insurance companies.

Butler also performs daily, weekly, monthly, bi-annual and annual inspection of all rides onsite during each event, the statement said.

According to Cal-OSHA records, the last reported accident at the Kern County Fair happened in 2012.

But Herrera remains skeptical.

"Rider injuries are a lot more common than industry or operator will admit to," he said.

"We get a lot of messages from injured riders wanting to know who to contact in California," Herrera said.

That's because Cal-OSHA "fails with regard to being visible," he said. "In the past we would forward accidents, concerns, etc... to them. Follow up was iffy and getting information was like pulling teeth. So we have stopped and retain information for ourselves."

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