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Amusement ride malfunction disrupts St. John the Beloved Carnival; event expected to continue today after safety inspections

The exterior of St. John the Beloved church in Wilmington.

A mishap on a popular amusement ride disrupted the second night of the St. John the Beloved Carnival in Wilmington, stranding about 20 riders on the broken down “Zipper” ride and causing minor injuries to two people.

Father Joe Piekarski, pastor at St. John the Beloved, said pleasant weather drew a good crowd to “Family Night” at the carnival and about 500 people came and went through the night before the ride malfunction.

First responders already stationed at the carnival reported the breakdown and assisted in getting passengers off of the “Zipper.” Additional emergency workers responded to the event.

“The Zipper is a pretty famous ride and it was one of those malfunctions,” Father Piekarski said Wednesday morning. He said carnival attendees “got a little panicky” but people in the crowd were mostly under control.

Firefighters and HACSR techs at times working in the rain, used tower ladders from Christiana and Brandywine Hundred fire companies, and an aerial ladder from Mill Creek Fire Company, to rescue everyone over the span of two hours, according to WDEL.com. The website reported one person was taken to Christiana Hospital for a non-life-threatening injury.

The carnival benefits St. John the Beloved parish and its athletic association. It is expected to run through Saturday. Family night is when all-you-can-ride wristbands are available for purchase.

Father Piekarski said the “Zipper” ride has been taken out of commission. He said all rides will be inspected by state officials before reopening the event today. The incident is under investigation by the Delaware State Fire Marshal’s Office which has jurisdiction over carnival rides.