VALDOSTA, Ga. — Three children in Tennessee were injured Monday, one seriously, after falling from a Ferris wheel owned by a Valdosta firm, according to authorities.
The accident took place at a county fair in Greene County, said Det. Capt. Tim Davis of the Greeneville, Tenn., Police Department.
“Our 911 center received a call at about 6:15 p.m. about an accident at the Greene County Fairgrounds,” he said.
Emergency crews found that a gondola on the Ferris wheel had tipped forward and dropped three girls 35-40 feet to the ground, Davis said. Two of the girls, ages 6 and 10, are sisters, while the third girl is 16, according to news reports in the Greeneville, Tenn., Sun.
Two girls were flown to the Johnson City, Tenn., Medical Center, while the third was taken there by ambulance, Davis said. As of 8 a.m. Tuesday, the two older girls were awake, alert and answering questions, Davis said. The 6-year-old had traumatic brain injuries and is in critical condition, according to The Sun.
The Ferris wheel is owned by Family Attractions, based in Valdosta, Davis said. An accident report filed with Tennessee authorities lists Ruby and Dominic Macaroni as the company’s owners. The company is in the fourth year of a five-year contract with the fair, Davis said.
All mechanical rides at the fair have been shut down until third-party inspectors contacted by both Family Attractions and the fair operator have certified them as safe, he said.
He said it’s too early to consider criminal charges in the incident.
“We need to understand the mechanics of what happened first,” he said.
In 2013, a thrill ride at the North Carolina State Fair owned by Family Attractions Amusements of Valdosta was involved in an accident that injured a family, and in 2015 an employee pleaded guilty in court to a charge of tampering with safety equipment on the ride. The owner of Family Attractions Amusements, Joshua Gene Macaroni, entered an “Alford plea” in the case as part of a plea deal, acknowledging there was enough evidence to convict him on a felony count of obstruction of justice, according to a news report in the Sun.
He faced 30 days in jail plus a fine, while the company settled a civil suit in the case, according to The Sun.
Davis said Greeneville police have determined the Family Attractions behind the Ferris wheel is not the same company involved in the 2013 accident.
“There can be two or three companies with the same name,” he said. “We’ve been able to verify that this company is in no way connected with that company.”