Just one day before the South Plains Fair officially opens to the public, inspectors are giving the rides rigorous safety checks. NewsChannel 11 followed an inspector as he gave the rides their checks.
Michael Hupalo makes a living by paying close attention to detail. Hupalo inspects fair and amusement park rides. A tough profession with virtually no room for errors. "It's good that we care about people, but safety is just plain good business," says Hupalo.
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It's also a job that demands long hours and tons of travel. "You try to remember where you are when you wake up in the morning."
Hupalo's theory: take care of the attraction like your daughter is on every ride. But, that said, Hupalo is realistic. He's the first to admit, sometimes even the most thorough safety checks aren't enough. Example: Disneyland 13 days ago. A mechanical failure on Thunder Mountain threw the coaster off its tracks killing one man. "This is machinery. It breaks down," says Hupalo.
But, not that often. In 2001, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports there were 5 amusement park and fair ride deaths in the U.S. Of those, about 85% occur because the guest was doing something they were told not to do.
And Hupalo says his job is satisfying. He does it because if you hang on and sit tight, you'll enjoy the ride with nothing to be afraid of. "People come here for a total event. An experience. And we want to make it as pleasant as possible."