Apiece of metal flew off a carnival ride Thursday at the Jackson County Fair, injuring a 9-year-old Medford boy and his friend.
Brendan Hasse and his buddy were standing in line at the gate of the Zipper when Brendan was struck in the face with a metal object, said his father, Fred Hasse.
"My son came bolting to me with his hands on his face," Hasse said. "When we moved his hands away, they were completely covered in blood."
The metal object was large enough to simultaneously strike Brendan's right eyebrow and put a deep cut on his cheek about an inch below his eye. It also scraped Brendan's shoulder before striking the other boy on the back hard enough to raise a welt, Hasse said. He declined to identify Brendan's friend.
"God was there or my son could be missing an eye," Hasse said.
An off-duty paramedic who happened to be at the fair looked at the cut on Brendan's cheek before escorting both boys and their parents to The Expo's medical gazebo, he said.
Brendan was taken to a local hospital where he received a few stitches, Hasse said.
"There were metal flakes down deep in the cut," he said.
Fair officials immediately closed the ride and are investigating the cause of the accident, said Expo Director Dave Koellermeier.
The rides are inspected daily for safety by certified operators. Koellermeier said Friday the object that struck the boys had not yet been located.
"We're not really sure where it is," Koellermeier said. "They know where it came off, and it was a non-mechanical part of the ride."
Without the object, its size, shape and weight can't be determined, he said. An independent inspector is being brought in to check the ride and determine what caused the metal to break free, he said.
Representatives of Funtastic, a Portland-based company that manages the carnival rides, said Friday they were unaware of the Zipper's mechanical issues and would also be investigating the problem.
The Zipper features a revolving arm that supports several spinning caged buckets.
Hasse praised Jackson County Fair officials for their actions and concerns. Brendan's initial medical attention was prompt and his medical bills are being taken care of, the father said.
His son always had been afraid of the carnival rides. But this year he had "buddied" up with the friend who was also struck by the metal object. The boys had provided moral support for each other, and had been on every ride in the park Thursday except for the Zipper, Hasse said.
The boys were positioned at the gate of the ride, excitedly waiting for their turn to spin up in the air in the whirling buckets, when Brendan "got a big shiner and stitches under his eye and a little trauma," Hasse said.
But everyone plans on returning as soon as Brendan is feeling better, Hasse said.
"It was just a freak accident," he said. "We'll go back together and do it all again. But I don't think we'll ride the Zipper."
Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.