(GREENEVILLE, Tenn.) — The family of two of the three girls injured in a Ferris wheel accident in Tennessee is speaking about the near-death ordeal for the first time, in an exclusive interview with Good Morning America.
The three girls fell from a height of 35-45 feet after the basket they were sitting in on the Ferris wheel at the Greene County Fair overturned on Aug. 8.
Kayla Reynolds, 10, said she remembers the moment clearly when she, her younger sister Briley, 6, and another girl, 16, were thrown to the ground after the ride malfunctioned.
“Me and my sister were crying. We were just like trying to hold onto stuff and didn’t know what to do,” Kayla Reynolds said. “We were probably sitting there with it tilted for maybe not even a minute…hoping it would turn back and then we just started falling.”
Kimmee and Jason Reynolds noticed the basket holding their daughters was tilting at the top of the ride and took off running towards the Ferris wheel operator yelling “stop, stop, stop now,” as they watched the horrific moment unfold.
“I was going to try to break their fall or something,” Jason Reynolds said. “What are you supposed to do? It’s scary.”
Kimmee added, “Kayla took the most hits. She hit the gondola beneath them, then she hit a bar and then she hit the ground. She was alert, though. When she hit the ground, she was awake.”
Kayla suffered a broken arm along with other minor injuries, but her younger sister took a much harder fall.
“[Briley] smacked the top of the other gondola and she went straight to the ground,” the mother of two described. “When she hit, she knocked out. Her eyes rolled back in her head,” she added, crying.
Doctors said Briley remains hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury in serious but stable condition.
Immediately after falling to the ground, Kayla was worried about her sister, “She wasn’t breathing and she wasn’t moving. But then I saw her move and it made me feel a lot better.”
Safety inspectors are blaming mechanical failure for the incident, which authorities are calling an accident.
Seat belts and lap restraints, which the ride lacked, are not required by law.
“It’s hard to track down where the negligent part came from,” Jason Reynolds said. “Safety should be a priority when you have people’s lives at risk.”
“You’re going to a fair thinking it is safe, expecting certain standards…thinking you are putting your child on something they are going to come off of fine,” Kimmee Reynolds said. Her husband added, “It can happen to anybody at any time. That’s the scary part about it.”
In their first statement addressing the incident, the Family Attractions Amusement Company told ABC News: “By no means do we take this lightly as our main concern is the safety of the families who visit our midway each week. We wish the children health and a speedy recovery as we continue to keep them in our prayers.”
A friend of the Reynolds family has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover the cost of medical expenses as well as gifts for Kayla and Briley.
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