Investigators have discovered new information on what caused a Ferris wheel in Tennessee to drop three girls on the ground from 30 feet up, causing one of them to suffer a head injury, CBS News reports. The Ferris wheel, which was installed at the Greene County Fair, reportedly had worn out rivets, causing a trim piece to get caught in the frame of a wheel, thus tipping the gondola over.
“At the time of the fall, the gondola was tipped to the interior of the ride approximately 90 degrees and the gondola was located at the 3 o’clock position of the ride,” according to report sent to the state Labor Department.
Report: Ferris wheel that dropped girls had worn out rivets. https://t.co/SPnTfxafwi— The Associated Press (@AP) August 13, 2016
The board announced Thursday that it canceled its contract with the company that provided rides for the fair, Family Attractions Amusements LLC of Valdosta, Georgia.
Which means that there won’t be any permanent rides in the last two days of the fair, the final day of the 2016 season being on Saturday. The board said that food booths will remain open
The company and Family Attractions Amusement hired investigators to find out what caused the gondola of the Ferris wheel to tip over.
Frank Guenthner, an inspector hired by Family Attractions Amusement, determined in his report that the Ferris wheel was correctly assembled at the site. The ride, however, has to be sent to the manufacturer for repair.
The youngest of the three girls who fell from the Ferris wheel, six-year-old Briley Rae Reynolds, suffered a traumatic brain injury and determined to be in critical conditions after the fall on Monday. Kayla, Briley’s 10-year-old sister, suffered a broken arm but was released from the hospital. The third girl an unidentified 16-year old, has already been sent home.
Kimmee Reynolds, the mom of the two injured girls, took to Facebook Saturday to inform everyone that Briley is already off the ventilator. She said that hearing her daughter come out of the coma was the “most emotional moment of my life.”
“I was walking back in the room and she was asking for me,” she wrote. “With her tiny, scratchy and quiet voice she says ‘Why am I here?’ I responded by telling her she is sick and just needs to get better. I said ‘I love you Briley Jae’ and she mumbled ‘Love you’ and I bawled like a baby.”
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam said to reporters Friday that it’s still too early for them to decide on what precautions they have to take to prevent accidents in the future.
“I don’t know that right now I have a policy shift of what should happen differently,” he said.
When asked if the gondola was rocking before it flipped over, Greeneville Police Capt. Tim Davis said that police are still investigating the matter and are in the process of interviewing people to get more details.
Gregory Lynthacum, of Washington County, Tennessee told WJHL that he saw the car being lifted upward before it sent the three girls plummeting to the ground from 30 feet up.
“It was like watching water pouring from a glass,” he said. “They bounced off the metal bridging of the ride and eventually hit the ground.”
Family Attractions Amusement had been involved in ride accidents numerous times in the past.
At the 2013 North Carolina State Fair, five people were hurt when an Italian-made ride called the Vortex suddenly restarted just as they were trying to get off, sending them flying through the air and then dropping them to a steel deck below. After some investigations, inspectors discovered that the operators disabled a safety mechanism before the ride started.
Greeneville police issued a request to anyone who attended the fair to send them photos and videos they may have been taken during the accident, as previously reported by NBC.
[Photo by Matthias Schrader/AP Photo]