Family speaks up about 11-year-old horrific Carnival ride incident
It was something out of a horror film -- a parent's worst nightmare. On May 5, 2016, 11 year-old Elizabeth Gilreath suffered serious injuries after her beautifully long Pippi Longstocking red hair was caught in a carnival ride in Omaha, Nebraska. According to KETV NewsWatch 7, Elizabeth was riding the spinning "King's Crown" ride when her own crown of hair was ripped straight from her head.
"I drove there to find out my daughter's scalp had been totally removed," Elizabeth's father Timothy Gilreath told KETV NewsWatch 7.
According to a WOWT News6 interview with Aushanay Allen, a friend of Elizabeth's who was on the ride at the time of the incident, the ride jerk suddenly before Elizabeth let out blood-curling screams.
"There was nothing we could do, so I stood up and I was like yelling. I was like stop the ride!" Aushanay Allen told WOWT News6.
Another mother, Jolene Cisneros, realized what was happening and ran to the ride. In an interview with WOWT News6, Cisneros explained she had to physically stop the ride with her hands in order to help Elizabeth.
"I prayed, please don't let her pass. I really didn't know if she was going to live or not," Cisneros told KETV NewsWatch 7.
Elizabeth's family considers Cisneros "a hero," according WOWT News6.
Elizabeth slid off the carnival ride seat and fell to the floor before her long hair was caught in the spinning mechanism, reports WOWT News6. Surveillance video from a nearby business captured the frightening moment on tape. The video also shows the ride operator running from the scene. Though it may be assumed the ride operating was running for help, the family is frustrated that he did not act sooner.
On Sunday night, less than 48 hours after the incident, Elizabeths's family spoke to a group of reporters at a news conference at Nebraska Medicine where Elizabeth is being treated. Elizabeth's mother, Virginia Cooksey, fought tears as she held up a pink poster with a post-surgery photograph of "Lulu," the family's affectionate nickname for the adorable, freckled Elizabeth.
"She loves her hair," Cooksey said between sobs.
The photographs shared by Cooksey show the thick purple scar where her scalp was ripped just below her eyebrows.
"They don't even know if the muscles will work and my daughter will be able to see again," Elizabeth's father, Timothy Gilreath, said with an expression of anger and sadness. "That is our baby."
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