Greene County Fair rides open one year after Ferris wheel accident

GREENE COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – Tuesday, Aug. 8 marks one year since a Ferris wheel accident at the Greene County Fair.

Aug. 8, 2016, News Channel 11 brought you the breaking news that three girls had fallen from a Ferris wheel at the Greene County Fair.

The girls were rushed to the hospital after they were tipped out of a gondola and at least 20 feet to the ground below.

Three lawsuits have been filed against the fairs’ ride contractor from last year — listed in court documents as Family Attractions, LLC. One lawsuit was filed by the parents of Kayla and Briley Reynolds — two of the girls who fell. Doctors said they had to put her in a coma due to swelling in her brain.

Doctors said they had to put her in a coma due to swelling in her brain. The lawsuit claims Briley still suffers from medical issues due to the fall.

Lorena Cowhy also filed a lawsuit against the ferris wheel’s manufacturer. She claims she was injured while holding her granddaughter to keep from falling out of the ferris wheel. The most recent lawsuit was filed last Friday.

The most recent lawsuit was filed last Friday. The lawsuit filed by Patsy and Michael Laws claims their daughter was seriously injured when she was thrown from the Ferris wheel.

Tuesday, the fair officially opened rides. The fair underwent major changes to prepare for this year including hiring two more inspectors in addition to Belle City Amusement’s inspector.

News Channel 11’s Justin Soto heard from parents who are comfortable with all of the rides after the inspections and those who still just aren’t. All of them say they’re relieved there are now three inspectors who’ve examined the rides their children and families will ride on.

Skyler Crisp has lived in Greeneville her whole life and has gone to the fair since she was a little kid. Crisp said she’s happy to share the tradition with her 3-year-old son Trevor.

“I think it’s really good to be able to bring the kids here and have fun with them,” Crisp said.

She said she’s comfortable getting on rides and with her son getting on rides he’s tall enough for. She’s relieved to hear that this year the fair has more inspectors taking a closer look at the rides.

“It’s a lot less stressful,” Crisp said.

Tuesday afternoon officials with the fair and the State of Tennessee held a press conference to talk safety improvements

“We went above and beyond, the state requires one inspector to look at those rides, again we had 3,” President of the Greene County Fair Association, Rick Clark said.

Clark said safety continues to be a priority and he wants to make sure people are comfortable. They also didn’t include a Ferris wheel this year.

“Be sensitive to those needs. We don’t want to bring those feelings back to people certainly,” Clark said.

Parent, Raluca Negrisanu, came to the fair last year but this year she’s more cautious.

“I wasn’t really sure I wanted to come but the kids pushed me, c’mon, c’mon,” Negrisanu said.

She doesn’t want her kids and their friends to get on certain rides, “those scary ones where you fly around,” Negrisanu said.

Both parents we spoke with say they’re happy to see there are more eyes on the rides.

Clark said one of their inspectors remained on the ground Tuesday night and he will be there Wednesday night as well to make sure the rides are operating smoothly.

Clark tells News Channel 11 that 5,260 attended the Greene County Fair on Tuesday. That’s the largest attendance on a Tuesday night since 2005.

The fair runs until this Sunday, Aug. 13.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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