Investigator: No malfunction in Lake Winnie roller coaster that led to woman's fall [documents]

Investigator: No malfunction in Lake Winnie roller coaster that led to woman's fall [documents]

June 27th, 2018 by Tyler Jett in Breaking News

Updated at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, June 27, 2018 with a comment from Lake Winnie spokeswoman Talley Green.

Document: Donna Kirby

Donna Kirby

The woman who fell from the Lake Winnepesaukah roller coaster earlier this month gives a different version of what happened at the start of the ride than park employees do.

According to a letter from her attorney, Allen Hammontree, Donna Kirby told a ride attendant at the Wild Lightnin' roller coaster that she could not fully bend her knees because of some "issues." She sat in the roller coaster on the left side of the car by herself, with her legs stretched diagonally out to her right. 

She locked in the lap bar, presumably keeping her safe. She said two employees agreed that she was protected.

Document: Wild Lightning

Wild Lightning

"The ride was rougher than she expected and she was holding to brace herself,' Hammontree wrote in a letter to the Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner. "After the first few turns; (sic) and at a height estimated to be about two stories from the ground, her legs slipped out from the lap bar, her body shot to the left and up, and she fell out of the car. She believes it was during a hard right turn.

"Ms. Kirby struck something on the way down and then landed on the ground."

The fall occurred on the afternoon of June 10, and paramedics rushed her to Erlanger Health System. She suffered a broken shoulder and upper arm and had to undergo surgery, Hammontree wrote.

According to State Fire Marshal Inspector Andrew Mize's report, though, two Lake Winnepesaukah employees said that Kirby sat straight forward, not with her legs diagonally across the car. One of the ride operators, Tamara Woods, told Mize she did not notice that Kirby had a medical problem, stopping her from being able to bend her knees.

Chris Salter, an ambulance worker who responded to the park that day, told Mize he found Kirby on the ground about 10 feet from the track.

Mize concluded that the roller coaster's lap bar did not malfunction.

Hammontree did not immediately return a call or email seeking comment this evening.

In a statement, Lake Winnepesaukah spokeswoman Talley Green said, "The Georgia State Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commission notified us on June 16 that the Wild Lightnin' Ride at Lake Winnepesaukah could be reopened, having found no mechanical issues with the ride."


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