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Three Children Fall from Ferris Wheel; Ride Owners Linked to 2013 NC State Fair Tragedy

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For the second time in less than a week, there has been another tragic amusement ride accident, this time in Greeneville, Tennessee. And the owners of the Tennessee accident are the same owners connected to one of the worst accidents in North Carolina State Fair history that happened in 2013.

On Monday night, three young girls – ages 6, 10, and 16 – fell off a Ferris wheel at the Greene County Fair in Greeneville. According to authorities, the basket the girls were riding in flipped over and the three children fell to the ground. Investigators estimate the girls plummeted approximately 40 feet.

Two of the young victims were transported by helicopter to Johnson City Medical Center. The third victim was transported there by ambulance.

The 16-year-old was first reported to be in critical condition, however, her condition was upgraded to stable condition the day after the accident. The 10-year-old suffered a broken arm and a broken tooth and is also listed in stable condition.

The 6-year-old victim, the younger sister of the 10-year-old, is still listed in critical condition. The girls’ mother reports that she received a traumatic brain injury in the fall and suffered seizures following the accident. She is also suffering from a brain bleed. Currently, she cannot breather on her own and is on a ventilator.  

The original statement by authorities said they believe the accident was caused by “mechanical failure,” however, the investigation is ongoing. The company that owns the amusement rides at the fair is the same company involved in another tragic accident at the North Carolina State Fair three years ago. In that accident, the owner’s son admitted he had tampered with the safety equipment on the ride. Members of the family injured in that accident were left with life-long injuries including brain damage and blindness.   

All of these amusement park accidents have raised the question – who is in charge of inspecting these rides and why isn’t the government taking charge? In Tennessee, authorities stopped doing inspections in 2014, and instead relies on ride owners to hire their own inspectors to do the job. There is no requirement in the state that the rides be examined after setup before families hop on them.

On Sunday, a 10-year-old boy was killed on a water slide at a park in Kansas. The state of Kansas – like Tennessee – has no state inspectors and relies on parks and ride owners to do their own inspections. Based on the number of children being killed and severely injured, this system is obviously not working.

If you or a family member has been injured in an amusement park or carnival ride, contact an experienced North Carolina personal injury attorney to find out what legal recourse you may have against the owners for your pain and loss.

Randy E. Appleton
Elizabeth City & Outer Banks Personal Injury Lawyer
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