After 3 girls fall off Ferris wheel, Greene County Fair Board talks about the fair’s future


GREENEVILLE, TN (WJHL)- Earlier this week, at the Greene County Fair, three girls fell out of the Ferris wheel owned by Georgia-based Family Attractions Amusement Co. The girls all went to the hospital. One of the girls remains in the hospital in serious condition.

The fair and the company have now mutually agreed to terminate the remainder of their contract for rides at the fair.

Earlier this year, a state investigation in North Carolina found the owner of Family Attractions’ son tampered with a ride, resulting in someone getting seriously injured in North Carolina in 2013.

At that time, Greene County Fair Board President Bobby Holt said the fair could not afford to get out of their contract with Family Attractions and was locked in until 2017. But now because it is mutual, the fair doesn’t have to pay.

Friday, the Ferris wheel and all of the other rides have been taken down at the Greene County Fair. “It was encouraging to come up the hill this morning and not have that reminder,” Holt said.

And the Family Attractions rides won’t be back next year. “With the accident it just wasn’t a situation that we felt was mutually beneficial in any way for them to be back here next year,” Holt said.

Holt said the fair board will now start finding another carnival ride provider. “It’s going to take a while to nail that down and review some carnivals and their safety records and try to make the right decision,” Holt said.

But Holt said there’s also another issue. “State of Tennessee has no inspectors to support the fairs,” Holt said.

The state Department of Labor and Workforce Development tells us the Ferris wheel was last inspected June 21st in Indiana and no violations were found. But Holt said Tennessee needs inspections done by the state, in the state.

“You don’t have a source to go to in the state to say hey we need an inspection,” Holt said.

But State Representative David Hawk (R-Greeneville) said this year’s budget passed with money to hire three state inspectors of carnival rides.

“The frustration is that these positions are not filled yet,” Hawk said.

But he said he thinks some good will come out of all of this. “It’s unfortunate you have to have a tragedy occurred to bring about change and improvement but now this is front and center in the state of Tennessee I feel like our inspectors and inspections will be more in depth and greater,” Hawk said.

Holt said because of the incident Monday, attendance and revenue has been down, but he said the fair will go on.

“I see no way that this group of folks is going to tuck tail and run, we’re all kind of beat down this week and stressed and upset and emotional…we’ll get through it,” Holt said. “The community has rallied around us, we’ll pull together, and we’ll have a fair, I’m certain of that.”

But Holt said right now, above all, their thoughts and prayers are with the six-year-old little girl still in the hospital.

Briley Reynolds’ condition is improving after falling 25-feet off the Ferris wheel. She is now in serious condition, according to Mountain States Health Alliance. Reynolds’ mom told us “she is now off the vent and breathing on her own” but says her head is still hurting.

A third party is inspecting what happened and will report its findings to the state, the state will then will determine whether to renew the company’s permit.

We left messages and emailed Family Attractions Friday but have not heard back.

The Greene County Fair remains open Friday and is set to close Saturday.Copyright 2016 WJHL. All Rights Reserved.

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