WATERVILLE — Three children were hurt Friday night when a roller coaster came apart at a downtown carnival, officials said.

The Dragon Wagon, a dragon-shaped roller coaster, came apart while in operation, injuring three children, Waterville Fire Chief Dave LaFountain said. The accident was reported at 7:06 p.m.

The injuries were mostly superficial, although one child was taken to Inland Hospital for treatment, LaFountain said. He said he was not sure how fast the ride was going when some of the cars separated from the front of the ride.

The accident comes shortly after the Office of the State Fire Marshal assumed control of the regulation of amusement park rides, LaFountain said. He said that previously it was up to municipalities to determine whether amusement park rides were inspected, but earlier this week the fire marshal’s office took over that responsibility statewide.

The Dragon Wagon is operated by a group called Smokey’s Greater Shows and was one of several rides at the carnival at Head of Falls. The carnival opened Thursday and runs through Sunday. LaFountain said all rides were inspected Wednesday and the Dragon Wagon passed inspection.

The cause of the accident is unknown and is being investigated by the fire marshal’s office.

“Some towns don’t get amusement park rides inspected at all,” LaFountain said. “We had these rides inspected, but unfortunately you can’t always prevent an accident. It’s a mechanical ride and sometimes machines break. Luckily it seemed like the injuries were not much worse than some bloody noses.”

Jen Morgan, a carnival worker who was working the game next to the Dragon Wagon, said she heard a loud bang around the time of the accident and saw several children with blood on their faces. “It scared me,” she said. “I looked up and part of the ride had derailed enough that it unhooked the carts.”

Morgan said the ride was at full capacity at the time of the accident.

“I don’t know if it was a weight issue or what happened,” she said. “The guy who was operating it was very quick to get (the kids) out of there. He was very professional, considering the situation.”

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