Close call on free-fall ride at state fair renews calls for increased safety measures on attractions

New video has re-ignited the push for more safety measures on rides at amusement parks and fairs. It shows a little girl screaming for help as a drop-tower ride starts lifting her into the air before her seatbelt is fastened. 

You see 9-year-old Isabella Carmichael’s face seemingly shift from excitement to terror as she realizes she can’t buckle her seatbelt, and the ride is lifting off. Meanwhile, employees don’t seem to hear her screams for help.

Tina Wilson, a Co-Founder of the Juneteenth Project Coalition, which has been pushing for greater safety regulations on rides like that, says the video is upsetting. 

"We expect them to keep our children safe, our loved ones safe," said Wilson. "With them being so cavalier and nonchalant as something as important as a safety belt on that type of ride, we’re talking boycotts. We’re talking about people losing their jobs if they don’t really step up to the plate and do better. They must do better."

Thankfully, employees eventually heard the girl's family and friends calling out to them, and they were able to stop the ride and bring it back down slowly and safely. 

The little girl’s mother, April Piper, told FOX 35 News she wants parks to "change their standards and practices to reflect these positions of responsibility that these companies are in while they hold our children’s lives in our hands."

Yarnell Sampson, father of Tyre Sampson, the 14-year-old boy killed in Orlando on a similar ride, wants the same thing.

"Number one priority should be safety over profit. Not profit over safety. Until the companies get it right, we’re going to continue having these problems," said Sampson. 

The recent incident happened at the Greater Gulf State Fair in Mobile Alabama.

"The primary shoulder and body restraint was secured and locked, which is required in order for the Mega Drop ride to start to operate," the Fair said in a statement, though it admitted the seatbelt was not fastened. 

In the video of the incident, you see an employee check a boy’s harness before the ride takes off, but no one comes by to check Isabella’s. The Greater Gulf State Fair says it’s re-trained employees who were present.

Wilson says there should be mandates on how those rides are handled, with more inspections done and more employee training. Sampson agrees.

"Thank god that young lady’s not hurt," said Sampson. "I’m happy that it’s not a tragic story. She gets a chance to fulfill her dreams and become whoever she wants to become as a young lady trying to become a young woman."

Tyre’s family says they’d like a memorial created for him at Icon Park. 

Icon Park is taking down its free-fall ride. That announcement came in October, though the ride is still standing for the time being.