A six-year-old girl suffered a traumatic brain injury after falling from a ferris wheel at a fair in Tennessee last Monday night, according to ABC News.
The fall spanned 35 to 45 feet to the ground and occurred around 6:15 p.m. The ferris wheel was operating at the Greene County Fair.
The other victims were a ten-year-old and sixteen-year-old. The ten-year-old is in stable condition with forearm injuries. The sixteen-year-old was originally listed in critical condition, but is now stable.
The fall was apparently caused by a mechanical failure. In addition, there were no seatbelts or bars to hold in the passengers.
When the passengers were descending the ferris wheel, one of the carts got stuck to another cart, sending the girls tumbling to the ground.
The youngest girl is in the worst shape with a traumatic brain injury. Often, a traumatic brain injury is caused by motion of the brain against the hard skull meant to protect the brain. But in a high speed collision or fall, the skull can be the brain’s worst enemy. The girl fell some forty feet.
They hit the gravel below them, and parents started rushing over. One of the parents said he had three girls in the fall. Some of the girls were airlifted to the hospital.
ABC looked into rules for fair rides and found that in some cases standards like belts or bars are voluntary.
“We would like to extend our thoughts and prayers for those injured tonight at the fair. We are deeply shocked and saddened,” the Greene County Fair said in a statement. “All rides have been shut down until further notice.”
The fair ran August 7th through August 13th. The ferris wheel was owned by Georgia-based Family Attractions Amusement Co. The fair and company agreed to terminate their contract for rides at the fair, according to WJHL.
The company was investigated for tampering with a ride, which resulted in someone getting seriously injured in 2013 in North Carolina. The fair said then they could not terminate their contract without having to pay and will be locked in until 2017. Now, since the termination is mutual, they won’t have to pay.
On Friday, the fair had taken down the rides, including the ferris wheel. The fair will be looking into a new company who can provide rides, and will be looking at their safety records before agreeing. However, Tennessee has no state inspectors to evaluate the safety of fair rides.
The budget allowed for three positions to inspect fair rides, but these positions have not been filled yet. The fair’s board president said that the fair will continue, despite the tragedy.
The six-year-old girl is still in severe condition, but is now off a ventilator and can breathe on her own. But her head still hurts, according to her mother. A third party is investigating and will send its report to the state.