A 16 year old girl from Neenah, Wisconsin, Elizabeth K. Mohl, fell to her death Saturday when an amusement ride called Air Glory malfunctioned at a Christian Music Festival called “Lifest”.
A blog account by a woman in attendance at the event reveals the heart breaking shock experienced by those who came to this family oriented festival:
I’ve just spent the the last 4 days at Lifest. We brought our girls, ages 5 through 10, to see some of their favorite bands, and to have them hear a few others that mom and dad listened to when they were too young to know.
Then, yesterday at about 4:40 p.m. the fun was interrupted by sirens. The first vehicle to arrive was a fire truck. My wife and I compared notes later and we both thought, “hey, carnival food, maybe a deep fryer caught fire”… and then we realized the truck was heading up toward the artist merchandise barn. Shortly after that, an ambulance arrived, and we knew something was terribly wrong. The obvious conclusion was that something had happened with the Air Glory ride near the barn.
I’m very, very upset by this tragedy. My heart grieves for the loss of this young woman; if the rumors are true, she wasn’t much older than my eldest. I can only imagine the pain that her family is suffering now, and I’m sure it’s worse than I can dream.
How did this occur? It could have been negligent application of the restraints that are supposed to hold the occupants in place, poor maintenance that could have led to failure of a part of the mechanism, or poor design of the amusement ride that rendered it unreasonably dangerous. One witness who was waiting in line said that he heard a snapping sound just before the girl fell. Another witness noted that the girl fell on the ground, away from the protective mats, although whether the mats are designed to protect participants falling from any substantial height is unclear.
Many attendees at the Christian event have reportedly already forgiven the ride operator. But, OSHA is investigating the scene of the tragedy.
Hopefully, the safety agency will shed light on the cause of this tragedy.
On a personal note, what causes me to shiver about this tragedy is that it falls on the eighth anniversary–to the very hour–of another tragedy: the Miller Park crane collapse of July 14, 1999, in which three ironworkers, Jeff Wischer, Bill DeGrave, and Jerry Starr, died under similar circumstances: Like the young woman here, they plunged to their deaths while suspended from a tower crane. I represented Jerry Starr’s widow in the Miller Park crane collapse lawsuit that resulted from that tragedy.
For more information on this subject, please refer to our section on defective products.