The Great Smoky Mountain Journal

Staff Reports

Posted: Monday, January 01, 2018 12:25 PM

One Injured On Wave Rider Attraction at The Island In Pigeon Forge

On Monday night, the Wave Rider attraction at The Island at Pigeon Forge wasn't moving. But Sarah Fowler's mind was racing a mile a minute recalling what happened Saturday night.

"Everyone just yelled stop the ride, stop the ride, stop the ride. The mom...she was just saying let me in let me in, let me in," Fowler recalled.

She said she watched as a mother scrambled to reach a young girl who had been thrown from the new ride.

"When it went all the way up, the momentum, her door came open, and so I’m guessing her feet went underneath and she flew off the ride and hit her spine. " Fowler said the girl then fell face first onto the concrete, rolled herself over, and started communicating with witnesses who rushed to help.

She said that's when she realized something seemed off, "It wasn’t the attendants that were attending to the child it was the people that had seen it happen so no I don’t feel like it was handled properly at all."

Fowler said witnesses had to tell the operator to stop the ride, and she thought it was strange the way he reacted. "His response wasn’t normal to something like that. He wasn’t frantic, he wasn’t trying to console the mother," she said.

Officials at The Island said the brand new ride was checked and triple checked by maintenance staff, the manufacturer, and even state inspectors. According to state documents, the ride passed inspections in June and was cleared for use.

"We’re praying for this guest and we’re hoping that they’re going to recover fully," said David Wear, Vice President of Operations for The Island, reported to local media.

Officials closed the ride immediately, and the state sent a cease and desist letter on Monday.

The girl was taken to the hospital but her prognosis was unclear.