MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A mother claims workers at the Greater Gulf State Fair did not properly strap her daughter to a ride. 9-year-old Isabella Carmichael got on the Mega Drop ride at the fair on Friday night. Video taken by a family member shows the 9-year-old girl as she starts to realize her seatbelt was not buckled.
“When the ride started going up I was screaming for help, said Carmicheal.”I’m guessing no one heard me because I was on this side and the people who were controlling the ride were all the way on the other side.”
The video shows operators checking other riders, but failing to check Isabella to make sure her seat was locked and secured.
“I got on it, and I put it on myself,” said Carmicheal. “I was thinking after the ride, maybe they thought I was buckled in because they didn’t look at the buckle.”
Isabella’s mother, April Piper, worries that if it weren’t for her daughter’s screams, her daughter may not be here today.
“Watching that video, and watching her face go from happy to worrying about her seat belt,” said Piper. “The pure terror that just flooded through her whenever that ride started moving. It was really hard to watch, and it’s hard to stomach your child going through that much trauma.”
Josh Woods, the Executive Director of the Greater Gulf State Fair, said ride operators noticed something wasn’t right as soon as the ride went up into the air, as they were doing a part of their inspections.
“The primary safety device that allows the rider to operate, that was engaged. The secondary device, the buckling of the buckle was not buckled,” said Woods. “There is a safety zone on the mega drop. It went up to the safety zone and again workers are looking, constantly looking. They did notice that the secondary safety device was unbuckled. The ride was immediately stopped, and everybody was brought down safely.”
Woods said the fair workers responsible for this accident have received additional training.
“Before rides get here, these rides are inspected nine times before they hit the property,” said Wood. “They have excellent training programs. So the workers did go through re-training and re-reminding that everything has to be checked at the start of the ride.”
He said North American Midway Entertainment owns the rides and takes pride in their safety precautions to protect those who attend the fair.
“The primary safety device worked, there was nothing defective,” said Woods. “My family rides the ride. My board’s kids ride the rides.”
As for this mother, she’s still concerned for the safety of other families.
“I had great trust in the Greater Gulf State Fair,” said Piper. “I didn’t think I had to worry about that type of thing. I don’t want another parent to think they could trust them so naively as I did because you are literally putting your children’s lives in these people’s hands.”
The last day of the year to attend the Greater Gulf state fair is Sunday, Nov. 6.