Child in ICU After Falling 35 Feet in Tennessee Ferris Wheel Accident

A county fair in eastern Tennessee has shut down all of its rides after a Ferris wheel accident Monday night left a child badly injured, authorities said Tuesday.

The girl was one of three girls who fell 35 to 40 feet after a basket overturned on a Greene County Fair ride and dumped out the occupants.

Greeneville police Capt. Tim Davis said at a news conference Tuesday that the child is in an intensive care unit in Johnson City, Tennessee. She has a head injury and has been intubated, Davis said. The other two were injured but are alert and answering questions.

Just after the accident on Monday night, Davis said the three girls were alert and talking to hospital staff.

The girls were transported to the Johnson City Medical Center — two by helicopter and one by ambulance, Davis said Monday night. CNN on Tuesday asked the hospital for their conditions but has not yet gotten an answer.

Bobby Holt, acting president of the Greene County Fair, said all rides will remain closed until third-party inspections are completed and the state of Tennessee decides that the rides are safe to resume. He said other attractions will continue as planned.

The fair, which ends on Saturday night, notified the public of the latest developments on its Facebook page.

“We would like to extend our thoughts and prayers for those injured tonight at the fair. We are deeply shocked and saddened. We are not releasing names out of respect for the families involved. All rides have been shut down until further notice. Safety crews and agencies were on site and responded immediately. Please keep these families in your prayers,” the Facebook page said.

Gregory Lynthacum said the car the girls were riding in appeared to “get caught” as the wheel lifted upward, WJHL reported.

“It was like watching water pouring from a glass,” Lynthacum told the station. “They bounced off the metal bridging of the ride and eventually hit the ground.” Operators finally stopped the ride after people on the ground screamed at them, Lynthacum said.

The accident follows the death of a 10-year-old boy on a water slide at the Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City, Kansas. The Sunday incident is being investigated by Kansas state police.

Caleb Thomas Schwab was killed while riding Verrückt, the world’s tallest water slide.

Thousands of children are hurt annually on amusement rides, according to a 2013 study by Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. The study examined data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Head and neck injuries were the most common at 28%, with 1.5% of the injuries requiring hospitalization, the study said.

Consumer Product Safety Commission statistics for 2015 are not available, but a review of the raw data found 45,000 injuries associated with amusement rides and water slides nationwide. About 30,000 of these cases involved those under age 18.

In 2013 at a Connecticut festival,13 children were injured in a swing ride, some seriously.

The ride “apparently lost power causing the children on the ride to forcefully fall to the ground,” Norwalk police said at the time.

CNN’s Steve Visser and Khushbu Shah contributed to this report.

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