by Richard Lamb—Advance Editor
A suspect was taken into custody following an incident at the Nautical City Festival shortly after 8 p.m. Wednesday evening. According to witnesses, a black Ford SUV raced east on Erie Street at a high rate of speed, ignoring the four-way stop at Third and Erie, then crossing First Street before it slammed into to a van owned by Richard Miles. The Miles van was parked in a handicapped area next to the Ferris wheel. The van stopped the progress of the black Ford SUV, which pushed the van into the Ferris wheel moving it about five feet, according to the operator. Four of the seats on the amusement ride were occupied, but no injuries were sustained.
The parked van was not occupied as Miles was riding his motorized wheelchair through the carnival operated by Schmidt Amusements. He heard the crash, as did many in the area. The area had heavy foot traffic, as the amusement area opened this evening for the Nautical City Festival. Just two hours earlier, the kiddie parade crossed Third and Erie with many participants and spectators lining the intersection.
Festival committee member Mike Myers was on the scene as Rogers City Police officers, Presque Isle County Sheriff’s deputies, and local EMS and fire department personnel quickly secured the area.
“I guess I picked the right place to park because there were about 30 people standing in front of that van. Thank the Lord that I parked there,” Miles said.
Quick thinking by the operator of the Ferris wheel kept people on the ride calm. Andrew Morgan, who has worked for Schmidt for one year saw the vehicle heading towards the Ferris wheel.
“I had just loaded the fourth seat, and I heard some squealing of tires, I looked over my shoulder and saw the black Ford and it smacked the van. As it smacked the van, I turned to grab my lever to stop the ride. And then I felt the whole ride move five feet,” Morgan said.
The riders were uninjured, Morgan said, but shaken up. He said he will have some bruises and might have banged his head, but felt alright. The ride was closed for the night, but other rides continued.
“When I let them off, I apologized to them. Things happen. Some people just don’t know when to stop. (The driver) was trying to ruin other people’s lives. It’s not right. We are all down here to have fun,” Morgan said.
At first, Morgan didn’t think the SUV would hit the ride, but then it struck the van and slid it sideways into the ride.
“I was going to stop the ride and yell at people to move, because I know hitting a car head-on will throw it at least 20 feet. If that car would have stayed going backwards, it would have taken out people and taken out the break the bottle game we have there. It was just me reacting like a human being,” Morgan said.
No further information on the suspect was available. More information will be available in next week’s Advance.
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