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Great Falls

Jul 31, 2013 9:02 PM by DaVonte McKenith (davonte@krtv.com)

Witnesses talk about woman's fall from Zipper ride at Montana State Fair

A woman was taken to Benefis hospital on Tuesday night after reportedly falling from a ride known as the Zipper at the Montana State Fair, but what caused the fall is not yet known.

Emergency crews were dispatched to the Montana ExpoPark shortly after 10 p.m. on Tuesday; witnesses said that the woman fell approximately 8 to 10 feet from one of the carts on the ride and landed on her head; initial reports indicate the woman was unconscious.

The nature and extent of her injuries has not been disclosed, and that's why law enforcement isn't involved in the case yet.

Therefore, fair officials have looked to employees and witnesses for answers.

Several witnesses told us that the operator of the ride didn't know the female was standing and started the ride while the woman was trying to exit the cart.

According to those eyewitnesses, that's when she slipped out and fell backwards.

Teanna Stuff recalled, "She was trying to get out. She probably didn't even notice it was up. She was still trying to get out of the ride and she probably didn't know what to do."

Stuff continued, "They weren't paying attention at all. They didn't even try to look. His people were already in the cart, and he said, 'Oh, we can start the ride now.'"

Officials from Mighty Thomas Carnival - the company who operates the rides at the fair - say details are still vague.

John Hanschen, president of the company, said, "My understanding was that the crew was unloading passengers and there were two passengers under the seat. One was able to get out normally and one somehow got tripped/tangled and fell."

Even though details are vague, fair administration tells us that this will be a case for Mighty Thomas Carnivals and law enforcement.

Right now, no law enforcement is involved in the case; Great Falls police are not involved because it happened on county property.

Cascade County isn't involved because it was only called in as a medical issue, with no suspected criminal activity.

Therefore, it's back to Mighty Thomas Carnivals to determine what happened.

Hanschen said, "We train them every day, and they are concerned for their customers. Nobody wants to be involved in an accident and they are very careful. We would always consider additional training if it was an employee mistake."

Witnesses say based on the incident, they hope the training focuses on employees paying more attention to detail.

Stuff said, "I think they should be paying a little more attention, or they should know more about their rides. Pay attention to everything and expect the unexpected because anything can happen."

KRTV has received another witness statement saying that the operator opened the gate, and while attempting to get the cart still, one woman hopped out, causing the other female to quote "fly out and land on her head."

A viewer also reported to us that an off-duty EMT did respond and held the victim's head still until authorities arrived on scene.

We will update you when we have more details.

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