Inspector failed to test train ride

Child, 6, died in Spartanburg children's ride

AP Photo/Spartanburg Herald-Journal-Tim Kimzey
A state inspector admitted to a supervisor that he falsified a safety report on a children's train ride that crashed on Saturday in Spartanburg, S.C., killing a boy and injuring dozens. The inspector said he did not test the ride because of a dead battery.
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COLUMBIA --- A safety inspector admitted he never tested a children's train ride that derailed last weekend, killing a 6-year-old boy and injuring dozens of others, state officials said Monday, and witnesses described the small engine increasing its speed just before it went off the tracks near a bridge.

A state inspector admitted to a supervisor that he falsified a safety report on a children's train ride that crashed on Saturday in Spartanburg, S.C., killing a boy and injuring dozens. The inspector said he did not test the ride because of a dead battery.   TIM KIMZEY/SPARTANBURG HERALD-JOURNAL
TIM KIMZEY/SPARTANBURG HERALD-JOURNAL
A state inspector admitted to a supervisor that he falsified a safety report on a children's train ride that crashed on Saturday in Spartanburg, S.C., killing a boy and injuring dozens. The inspector said he did not test the ride because of a dead battery.

Authorities have not said exactly what caused the train to crash Saturday at Cleveland Park in Spartanburg. The nearly 60-year-old-train dubbed "Sparky" opened a week early because of the warm weather and was supposedly checked by a state inspector last Wednesday. But after the crash, the inspector came forward to say he hadn't done a thorough review.

Benji Easler died, and his parents and siblings were injured, along with 25 other children and adults on board. Injuries ranged from bumps and bruises to broken bones. Some of the children were taken away on stretchers.

Many of those on the train were members of Corinth Baptist Church, where Easler's father is pastor.

A youth minister who is acting as spokesman for the victims said church members told him they felt the train speed up.

"All of my people said the train got faster and faster," the Rev. Nathan Ellis said. "They felt like it was increasing in speed and something was wrong."

A woman who rode the train just before the crash said the operator sped up on the third lap. After her ride, the train wrecked on its third lap.

"The first two laps were peaceful, he'd go around slow," said Marlene Sellars, 55. "That last lap, he would go fast. He just would barrel through there."

The ride was reportedly inspected by Donnie Carrigan, but he admitted falsifying a report in which he marked the train's operation at proper speed as "satisfactory," according to Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation chief Catherine Templeton.

Carrigan, a 20-year agency employee who has been fired, said he didn't test the ride March 16 because its battery was dead, making it inoperable, according to Templeton. The battery was replaced Saturday morning, Spartanburg Parks Commission spokeswoman Nisha Patel said.

"Unfortunately the inspector did not complete his job," Templeton said.

Templeton also said Carrigan's certification had lapsed, and he would have been required to attend a retraining session in April with six other LLR employees.

"We are very sorry for the tragedy," Templeton said. "I don't have any reason to doubt this man's character."

The Easlers are both natives of Spartanburg and are still setting funeral arrangements for Benji.

"They're just grieving the loss of their son," Ellis said.

Patel said a candlelight vigil for Benji was planned tonight at the park.

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Crime Reports and Rewards TV
33
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Crime Reports and Rewards TV 03/21/11 - 12:55 pm
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Tragic...

Tragic...

stillamazed
1488
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stillamazed 03/21/11 - 01:05 pm
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Prayers go out to the family.

Prayers go out to the family.

Sweet son
10736
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Sweet son 03/21/11 - 07:27 pm
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Carrigan should have been on

Carrigan should have been on that first trip and ended up under it when it crashed. What a pitiful "govment" employee! All he had to do is say no! So sorry for those affected by his wreckless conduct.

Dixieman
15998
Points
Dixieman 03/21/11 - 05:28 pm
0
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He may yet face criminal

He may yet face criminal charges.

bettyboop
7
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bettyboop 03/21/11 - 05:43 pm
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"He may yet face criminal

"He may yet face criminal charges"...as well he should.....he is directly responsible for that childs death..............government employee indeed..he most likely has a great pension plan......

sunny1
0
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sunny1 03/22/11 - 06:47 am
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Heartfelt condolences to the

Heartfelt condolences to the family, just tragic. But what does it matter that "Carrigan" is a Government employee?

blues550
380
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blues550 03/22/11 - 08:57 am
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What matters is gross
Unpublished

What matters is gross negligence and incompetence by the government. And a 20 year old inspector?

blakkone
72
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blakkone 03/22/11 - 10:22 am
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What a terrible loss to that

What a terrible loss to that family.

PS...Blues550...inspector worked for 20 years, he was not 20 years old. Per the article...

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
33
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Crime Reports and Rewards TV 03/22/11 - 11:39 am
0
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Almost everything tax users

Almost everything tax users have told the taxpayer has been a lie. What else is new? They get away with it because THEY KNOW Americans are too lazy to call them on it.

mable8
2
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mable8 03/22/11 - 07:48 pm
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Why couldn't the employee put

Why couldn't the employee put in a new battery and complete the test before letting anyone on it? As a government employee, his union will make sure any charges are fought because unions seem to think they and their supporters can do no wrong. Heartfelt condolences to the victims of this horribly tragic event--

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