A day at the carnival turned to tragedy at an Omaha carnival this last Cinco de Mayo.
Elizabeth Gilreath, age eleven, had her hair torn off when it got caught in a carnival ride in Omaha, Nebraska. She is currently in critical condition.
"I took these pictures after her surgery, and this is my 'Lulu'", said Virginia Cooksey, Elizabeth's mother, during a press conference at Nebraska Medicine where Elizabeth is currently being treated. Lulu is Elizabeth's family nickname.
Elizabeth's hair was caught on the spinning mechanism of the carnival seat after she slid off of her seat. Elizabeth's father, Timothy, states that the torture went on for five to ten minutes while his daughter was "ripped and pulled <..> around." A surveillance video from a nearby business shows the ride slowing at around 1:30 PM. In the video, Jolene Cisneros runs over in an attempt to stop the ride:
It was still spinning. I had to stop it with my hands and turn it to the point where it was to the platform. I was like, you're going to be okay and she's like, where's my pretty hair? I didn't know it was my child, I just knew there's a child and she needed help...I wanted her to live. Please don't let her pass. My prayers are with her. I want her to know that she's loved and cared about and it's going to be okay. She's still here and with us and I'm grateful for that.
Though the operator of the carnival ride known as the King's Crown was seen running in the video, possibly to get help, the family is disturbed that he didn't do anything to help Elizabeth sooner. "I don't understand how this man didn't notice my daughter laying on the ground", Cooksey says.
Her father puts it much more bluntly. "She was tortured."
The family is staying strong, holding back tears, in the presence of Elizabeth, but are very thankful to her doctors. "I can't let my daughter see it. I have to stay strong...Surgical doctors played a big role and they saved my daughter's life and I cannot thank them enough."
Currently, Elizabeth still cannot speak and communicates through hand squeezes. Her father reports that "they don't even know if the muscles will work (referring to her eyelids) and my daughter will be able to see again. That is our baby."
The carnival company is currently cooperating with the investigation to figure out exactly what happened to this poor girl on a seemingly innocent day out with cousins. To see the family press conference, click here.
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