Child injured in carnival ride accident at Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

March 15, 2012 10:06:47 AM PDT
A 3-year-old girl was injured in an accident at the RodeoHouston carnival Wednesday.

The accident happened at about 2:20pm. Leroy Shafer, Chief Operating Officer of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, told Eyewitness News the little girl, who is tall for her age, met the height and weight requirements of the Techno Jump ride, but was riding with her brother, rather than an adult.

According to witnesses, the mother decided to get off the ride before it started, leaving the girl and her brother on the ride.

The ride has a lap belt and restraining bar, but Shafer says the boy was unable to prevent his sister from crawling out of the seat. The girl fell a short distance to the ground just after the ride started moving.

The girl was taken to Texas Children's Hospital to be checked out. Shafer said she suffered a contusion on the side of her head and abrasions on her face, but a CAT scan and X-ray tested negative for more serious injuries. She will be OK, minus a painful wound and a bad memory.

Shafer emphasizes it is parents' responsibility to watch out for their kids. He says the Techno Jump is not a kiddie ride.

"The thing I want to emphasize to parents...be responsible out here," Shafer said.

Rodeo officials also say the ride operator is not at fault because she met the height requirement for the ride and there was no way to know that she was so young.

Rodeo spokesperson Sarah Poole says the ride was last inspected on Tuesday, and passed inspection.

The ride was shut down for an investigation but because incident records came back clear for the ride, it reopened later Wednesday afternoon.

Jerry Hagins with the Texas Department of Insurance also says the state has one reported injury of a slip and fall in 2008, but it didn't happen in Houston. The state also said the ride is in compliance with insurance and inspection requirements through March 31, 2012.

Rodeo officials says they will enforcing a policy for the Techno Jump until the end of this year and then they'll review it for the future.

"The ride operators are not going to let a child that's under 48 inches of height ride on the ride if the companion is not an adult," Shafer said.

State Representative Garnett Coleman says lawmakers need to do their part to maintain safety. He's working on legislation to hold traveling carnivals to the same safety standards as permanent ones.

"Clearly there needs to be more scrutiny on traveling amusement rides," Coleman said in a statement. "This is a yearly story with this particular operator that someone is hurt or killed."

Last year, a man fell to his death from a carnival roller coaster ride on the last night of the rodeo.

But in this particular accident, parents we talked to said it was the parent, not the carnival ride operator or the rodeo, who they felt was at fault.

"If the child is 42 inches tall and they're three, then I would get on with them. She's eight and I'm getting on with her," parent Shanta Robinson said.

We asked CPS if they plan to investigate Wednesday's incident and the agency said they don't plan on it because it appears to be a case of a parent just making a bad decision.

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