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Worker fatally struck by carnival ride at festival

Police guard the scene of an accident that

Police guard the scene of an accident that injured a carnival worker on a ride called "Scat" at the Mother Cabrini festival in Brentwood. (Sep. 1, 2012) Credit: Daniel Brennan

A carnival ride struck and killed a worker Saturday night in Brentwood after he reached under the moving machinery to fetch something, police and organizers said early this morning.

He died at Stony Brook University Hospital, hours after medics had rushed him there by helicopter, the organizers said.

Suffolk County police said the worker -- identified by the carnival as Michael Austin, 22 -- was coming off his break at about 7:30 p.m. at the crowded Feast of Mother Cabrini festival when he went to get something underneath for the ride operator. When the worker stood up, the ride struck his head and knocked him to the ground, police said.

Ride owner Pete Zorlenzan, reached by phone early Sunday morning at the hospital, said, "My heart goes out to the family. It's so hard. It was just a plain accident. I'm with the family right now. They're pretty upset and so am I."

Austin's relatives couldn't be reached for comment.

Austin had started the job three weeks ago, feast spokeswoman Kerry Gillick-Goldberg said. Hours before the death, feast organizers told Newsday that Austin had been conscious and set to have a CT scan. But he died shortly after 11:30 Saturday night, they said.

The ride that hit Austin is called the Scat, in which riders stand against a wall in two large baskets that rapidly rotate while the ride itself spins.

Zorlenzan said Austin may have been trying to change the Scat's soundtrack playing on an iPod beneath the ride.

About 16 people were on the Scat at the time of the incident, said Mike Newton, president of East Northport's Newton Shows, which oversees the festival's amusements. Police said no one but Austin was hurt.

Newton said the ride was taken out of service. Police said the accident has been reported to federal and state labor regulators.

Gillick-Goldberg said the ride would stay closed until the investigation is done. The Scat, one of about 25 rides at the feast, is owned by Zorlenzan's Amusements of Elmont, Newton said.

Mother Cabrini, which bills itself "Long Island's Largest Italian Feast," is supposed to run through Monday, but it was unclear Sunday morning how the death would affect the schedule.


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