Carnival worker clings to ride, keeps child safe; Groves Marshal shares reaction from the scene

Published 4:54 pm Monday, October 16, 2023

GROVES — A carnival worker and child in Groves went for an unexpected ride when the wind caused an attraction to rise before the man was able to close the door, authorities said

The worker clung to the ride as it rose 30 to 35 feet in the air, and by doing so, kept a young person safe.

Groves City Marshal Norman Reynolds Jr. and another officer were in a golf cart at approximately 4:30 p.m. Sunday during the closing day of the Groves Pecan Festival when someone walked up and told him to look up.

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When he did he saw the carnival worker hanging on to the ride by one arm up in the air.

“He was just dangling,” Reynolds said. “We ran up to the ride and felt extremely helpless. There was nothing we could do other than call the fire department out there. He was really struggling and couldn’t get in a position to take the weight off his arms.”

The ride features two cars — one of each end where one car rises up while the other moves toward the ground. The worker was either loading or unloading the car and a young person was left in it and the wind caught it and took it to the top, Reynolds said.

“He held on. Apparently he hadn’t closed the door but he was strong enough to hold on,” Reynolds said.

The man was the main operator of the ride and others that came seemed as if they were a bit confused as to how it worked. The other workers opted to empty the car at the bottom and once they did they let the one in the air down.

“It had a great ending, fortunately,” Reynolds said. “I felt like he stayed with it so he would be able to help the young person in the car. It looked pretty heroic to me.”

A woman identifying herself as the child’s mother on a Facebook group offered thanks to the carnival worker for keeping her child safe.

Reynolds said the ride was shut down after the worker and young person were on the ground safely since there was only 90 minutes left until the festival shut down.

Letha Knauth, executive director of the Groves Chamber of Commerce and Tourist Center, called the worker a hero for securing the child.

“It was an exceptional job by the carnival and they were super nice to people,” Knauth said, adding she was told they worked well with children and engaged well with the public.

For Reynolds, this was his final Pecan Festival as city marshal as he is set to retire in early January.