Warning: This article contains graphic images and details that may not be suitable for all readers.
An 11-year-old Nebraska girl, Elizabeth “Lulu” Gilreath, had her hair and scalp ripped from her head after her hair became tangled in a spinning carnival ride. The little girl’s hair was ripped from her head as she was flung around the ride after slipping from her seat. Witnesses say that they screamed for the ride operator to stop the ride so that the child could be rescued.
However, before the ride even came to a full stop, the ride operator was seen running from the scene, potentially to get help. The victim’s family says the operator should have remained at the ride to help the child as another mother who witnessed the horror was forced to physically stop it with her body as it began to slow.
Global News reports that 11-year-old Elizabeth Gilreath, who goes by the nickname “Lulu,” was hospitalized and remains unable to open her eyes, speak or communicate after a horrific carnival ride accident in Omaha, Nebraska. The little girl was riding a spinning teacup-style ride called King’s Crown at the Omaha Cinco de Mayo festival on Sunday when she slipped from her seat. Her long hair then got tangled on a spinning mechanism.
As the ride continued to spin, Lulu’s hair was ripped from her head violently along with portions of her scalp. The little girl was thrown around the ride by her hair and suffered severe muscle damage to her face. Her family claims that the child is unable to speak, open her eyes or communicate with her face due to the muscle damage. Instead, Lulu is communicating with hand squeezes.
Lulu’s father, Timothy Gilreath, spoke to WOWT of the horror that his daughter endured as the ride continued to spin for what he claims was five to 10 minutes after her hair became tangled in the ride mechanism.
“It went on for 5-10 minutes everybody told me while it ripped and pulled my daughter around. They don’t even know if the muscles will work and my daughter will be able to see again. That is our baby. She was tortured.”
Another child on the ride at the same time as Lulu, Aushanay Allen, says that there was nothing they could do to help Lulu once her hair got tangled. She says that she tried her best to get the attention of the ride operator so he could stop the ride. She says she stood up in her seat and yelled, “Stop the ride! Stop the freaking ride!”
At this point, surveillance footage shows witness and mother Jolene Cisneros rush up the platform to tell the ride operator to stop the ride. The ride operator presses the button to stop the ride and then is seen running away from the ride on foot, likely to get help. However, Lulu’s parents say that he left the ride before it came to a complete halt and it forced Jolene Cisneros, a complete stranger to Lulu, but a mother herself, to attempt to stop the ride with her body. Cisneros says she used her hands and body to stop the ride and to manually move it to the platform.
Cisneros says that when she got to the ride where Elizabeth was seated she saw the child on the ground without any hair. She says that she didn’t know who the child was only that the child needed help.
“It was still spinning. I had to stop it with my hands and turn it to the point where it was to the platform. I was like, you’re going to be okay and she’s just like, where’s my pretty hair? I didn’t know if it was my child, I just knew there’s a child and she needed help.”
The carnival company, Thomas D. Thomas Shows, is allegedly working with police on an investigation into the accident. The carnival company says the King’s Crown ride was last inspected in March and that they are dedicated to safety.
“Thomas D. Thomas Shows values the safety and health of our guests above all else and we are saddened by this accident … The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Thomas D. Thomas Shows are with the young girl and her family during this extremely difficult time.”
A GoFundMe has been setup for Lulu’s medical expenses and recovery. The family hopes to use some of the funds to purchase Lulu a series of wigs that she can use until her hair grows back from the horrific accident. You can learn more about the GoFundMe account here.
[Image via Facebook/ Virginia Cooksey]