5-year-old recovers from Lebanon carnival ride injury

A 5-year-old identified only as "Phoenix" was hurt on the Clown Around ride of Poor Jack Amusements on July 4, 2017, at a carnival in Lebanon. (Provided Photo/Taylor Catron)

LEBANON, Ind. (WISH) — A 5-year-old girl is home recovering after being injured during a carnival ride in Lebanon.

Witnesses described a terrifying scene when they said they saw the girl trapped underneath the ride.

It happened Monday at the Fourth of July Carnival at Memorial Park in Lebanon.

One witness told 24-Hour News 8 her husband actually kicked in the gate to get to the child when the ride came to a stop.

“It all happened so fast there was like a line of people trying to get in after him,” said Rebekah Sanders, witness. “It was just, it was terrifying.”

Sanders said so many people screamed for the operator to the stop the ride when they saw what was happening.

The child’s mother provided several pictures to 24-Hour News 8 showing the injuries. In one picture, you can see her daughter in a neck brace. In another picture, you can see her face swollen with bruises and tire marks after being pinned underneath the ride.

Sanders said her daughter was also on that ride, called Clown Around.

“We noticed a little girl stand up and before she had a chance to sit back down, the ride operator started the ride,” Sanders said.

Sanders said the girl was knocked down and claimed the operator didn’t check to see if everyone was seated properly before starting the ride.

“We all started screaming for her to stop the ride and she couldn’t hear us and we started screaming louder,” she said. “I don’t even know how many times we screamed for her to stop the ride.”

Sanders said by the time they got the attention of the operator, the ride had gone in a full cycle.

“I was in shock. I was scared. I was mad because the lady just, I mean, she wasn’t paying attention — she was on her phone, she was doing everything that she shouldn’t have been doing,” she said.

When the ride came to a stop, Sanders said her husband and three other men, including the child’s father, did everything to get her out.

“I’m just thankful that there was a lot of people there that were helpful citizens and tried to do everything they could to help this little girl and her family,” she said.

24-Hour News 8 learned the girl’s name is Phoenix. Her parents declined an on camera interview but provided an update as to what happened on Facebook.

Her father wrote his daughter “somehow managed to get pinned under the bars connecting the cars to the ride and was pinned with the bar over her neck dragging her around.” She was taken to the hospital and released the next day.

24-Hour News 8 talked with the vice president of Poor Jack Amusement, the company in charge of the carnival. He said the operator was put on paid leave pending further investigation.

He also said Indiana Department of Homeland Security inspected the ride the morning after the incident and gave them the green light to continue operation.

Police said the operator gave them a statement. She told them she was not on her phone and that she did check to make sure the children were seated and secured before starting the ride.

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