NC State Fair worker undergoes emergency surgery five days after accident

akenney@newsobserver.comNovember 2, 2013 

— A worker crushed by a piece of a carnival ride underwent emergency surgery on Friday evening, his family said.

Anesto Newell, 32, was in serious condition Saturday at WakeMed five days after his injury at the N.C. State Fair.

Newell was part of a crew hired by Powers Great American Midways to tear down rides and stands after the fair closed on Oct. 27. He was about four hours into his shift, around 3:30 a.m., when a set of seats fell onto him, according to Taka James, his sister-in-law.

James and Newell’s brothers also were working at the tear-down, not far from Anesto Newell.

“I was standing by my car, and you heard a pop, and then a boom,” said James, 24, of Garner.

When she looked up, she said, she saw the top of a tall ride swaying. “And I said, ‘Well, I could have sworn that thing just had seats on it.’ Then I saw the cable swinging.”

Realizing that Anesto Newell had been working on the Vortex – which shares a name with the ride that injured several people earlier in the fair – Taka James and her brother-in-law ran for the damaged ride, she said.

The four-seat compartment had mangled Newell, putting his feet near his head. “He was in a lot of pain,” she said.

The accident broke Newell’s back in three places, along with his left femur, his ankle and three toes, James said.

Newell was in critical condition as of Thursday, according to WakeMed. A native of New York and a professional singer, Newell was working the fair for a fifth or sixth time, James said.

James said she is disappointed that her family has heard from neither Powers Great American Midways nor fair officials nor the Department of Labor, she said.

Aside from reporters, “no one has asked any member of my family anything about the accident, except for lawyers,” she said.

The state Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Division is investigating the injury, according to spokeswoman Dolores Quesenberry. She said she could not comment further on a pending investigation.

James also said that the midway contractor did not provide any training or safety equipment to the tear-down workers.

“When you get there, everybody’s rushing, trying to break down their stuff so you can go,” she said. James, who has worked the fair for five years and ran a kiddie ride this year, said she is “done.”

“Out of the whole five years, nothing like this has ever happened,” she said.

She, her brother-in-law and her husband received $40 each for their work, she said.

A representative for Powers Great American Midways did not return a call for comment Friday night.

Kenney: 919-829-4870; Twitter: @KenneyNC

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