Workers were in the process of disassembling rides early Monday morning after the Sunday evening closing of the Greensboro Youth Council's Carnival when two of the workers on the Ferris wheel fell, WFMY-TV, Greensboro, reported.
The two men were in bucket-style lifts in different locations when a cable broke, causing the buckets to swing and eject the men, investigators said.
The worker in the higher bucket died while the other was taken to a hospital with critical injuries.
Police were waiting to release the names of the victims pending notification of families.
The carnival rides for the GYC Carnival were provided by the James H. Drew Exposition company of Atlanta, WFMY reported.
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