MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A video taken at the Greater Gulf State Fair in Alabama shows a 9-year-old’s terrified reaction when she realizes her seatbelt isn’t fastened as the Mega Drop ride starts.
“When the ride started going up I was screaming for help,” said Isabella 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, taken Friday night at the fair, shows operators checking other riders, but failing to check Isabella’s seat.
“I got on it, and I put it on myself,” said Carmicheal. “I was thinking after the ride… they thought I was buckled in because they didn’t look at the buckle.”
Her mother, April Piper, said she could see her daughter’s face change as the ride starts to climb. “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,” she said.
But Josh Woods, the executive director of the Greater Gulf State Fair, explained that while the seatbelt wasn’t fastened, other safety mechanisms were in place.
“The primary safety device that allows the ride to operate, that was engaged. The secondary precautionary device – pretty much like a tertiary thing – the buckling of the buckle was not buckled,” he said. “The primary safety device worked, there was nothing defective.”
He said the Mega Drop ride, owned by a company called North American Midway Entertainment, has a “safety zone,” and as the ride started to lift, ride operators noticed something wasn’t right.
“It went up to the safety zone and 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.
Woods said the Mega Drop workers doing inspections Friday night have since received additional training.
“Before rides get here, these rides are inspected nine times before they hit the property. 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,” said Woods.
That’s not enough to comfort April Piper. “I had great trust in the Greater Gulf State Fair,” she said. “I didn’t think I had to worry about that type of thing.”