Local

Viewer captures video of RodeoHouston carnival ride accident

Friday, March 16, 2012

We've shown you what eyewitnesses and the Rodeo say happened on a carnival ride on Wednesday night, when a toddler fell off of it. Now, we have exclusive video of the moment the girl flew off.

We took the video straight to Rodeo officials because it doesn't match the story they initially told us. We want to warn you, some may find the video hard to watch.

The Rodeo was actually happy to see the video. Until late Thursday evening, they had based their conclusions only on eyewitness accounts. But this video shows them how high the ride was and how fast it was going when the three-year-old fell off.

But Rodeo officials say it changes nothing about who's at fault.

While the Techno Jump continues to operate, we got our first look at what brought it to a halt for three hours on Wednesday afternoon. A parent recording his child on the ride also recorded the young girl slipping through the restraint and falling off.

On the first rotation, you can see both of her legs on the right side of the crotch restraint and the little girl starting to slip. The second time around, she can hold on no longer and her legs fly in the air, falling six to eight feet to the platform below.

"I don't think it changes anything," said Leroy Shafer, chief operating officer of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

We showed the video to Shafer. On Wednesday, he told us the little girl crawled out. Now he says that was a poor choice of words.

And though she met the height requirement, he still maintains the accident happened because she was just too young to ride without an adult.

"This was a three-year-old without an adult, and we said she came under the bar, she came under the lap restraint," Shafer said.

But that was on the second rotation. The first time she passed the ride operator, it was clear she was in danger.

"Should the operator have been more aware?" we asked Shafer.

"I'm going to tell you again, I can't say that," he replied.

We also showed the video to State Rep. Garnett Coleman. It renews his desire, he says, for stricter carnival regulations.

"If every year there's an accident or some type of death, then the regulation needs to be better," Coleman said.

Shafer says he agrees with Coleman and there should be stricter regulations for these carnival rides.

As we reported Wednesday night, the rodeo changed the requirements for the Techno Jump to ban children 48 inches of height and shorter from getting on the ride without an accompanying adult.

The Rodeo is also looking at other rides to see if any requirements need to be changed too.

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