State probes boy’s fall and Lantana Oktoberfest ride’s age guidelines

Three days after an accident at a Lantana Oktoberfest ride, questions linger about the circumstances that led to a young child being rushed to a local hospital.

The child who was taken to a trauma center after falling from a swing ride was described in a Palm Beach County Fire Rescue report as “pre-school age,” though an operator’s manual that a state agency says applies to the ride recommends “no children under the age of 7” or under 42 inches tall.

Authorities have not released a precise age or height for the child or an update on his condition.

“Our investigation is ongoing,” said Aaron Keller, spokesman for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which oversees rides through its Bureau of Fair Ride Inspection.

A representative of Premium Shows of America, which provided rides for the annual Oktoberfest celebration at the American German Club in Lantana, did not respond to requests for comment.

Steve Lisko, the Premium Shows owner, previously said the ride did not malfunction: “It was a kid who just got out.”

State officials said they found no deficiencies in the ride.

“The ‘Jitterbug Swing’ ride was inspected by our department on Oct. 8 and no deficiencies were found,” Keller said. “A department inspector was dispatched Sunday to complete an inspection of the ride. There were no deficiencies found during the post inspection and the ride was allowed to reopen.”

Asked if there are any age or height restrictions, Keller said, “Each ride has different safety requirements outlined in their operations manual.”

A manual his office provided for the Jitterbug ride recommends: “No children under the age of 7” and “Person must be 42” in height.”

The recommended ride time is 3 minutes, the manual says.

As for what penalties might accompany a failure to follow a manual’s recommendations, Keller referred to Florida Statutes 616.242 (19). It provides for penalties including a suspended license and a $2,500 fine for violations that can include operating a ride in a way that “presents a risk of serious injury to patrons.”

The child was taken by helicopter to a local trauma center around 10:30 p.m. Saturday, according to Capt. Albert Borroto, public information officer for Palm Beach County Fire Rescue. He reportedly fell 10 to 15 feet.

No updates about the child were available from fire-rescue officials or festival organizers.

American German Club President Kurt Freiter said Monday, “It was an unfortunate accident. I’m hoping the child is doing better and that everything is OK.”

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