"I can't believe the place is still open," Billie Bankus told KMTV Sunday as she stood holding a sign outside a Cinco de Mayo festival in Omaha, Neb., warning people of the dangers she said lurked inside the gates. Bankus was protesting on behalf of Elizabeth Gilreath, an 11-year-old girl whose scalp was ripped off Saturday afternoon after her hair got caught on one of the carnival's rides, People reports. Elizabeth is now recovering at a nearby hospital and is expected to survive, though her dad tells WOWT, "They don't even know if the muscles will work and my daughter will be able to see again." Elizabeth, who also goes by Lulu, was taking a turn on the King's Crown ride when her hair got tangled up in the ride's spinning mechanism, yanking Elizabeth around for what's believed to be between five and 10 minutes, Elizabeth's dad says. "I stood up and … was like yelling … 'Stop the ride! Stop the freaking ride!'" one of Elizabeth's friends says.
Surveillance video taken from a nearby company shows the operator of the ride running from the scene (though WOWT notes he may have been going to find help). A mom on the scene was the one who ended up stopping the ride and coming to Elizabeth's rescue. "I had to stop it with my hands," Jolene Cisneros says. "I was like, you're going to be OK and she's just like, 'Where's my pretty hair?'" The festival coordinator tells KMTV that Thomas D. Thomas, the company that operates the King's Crown, had inspected all the other rides and determined it was safe for the festival to continue. Elizabeth's mom posted pictures Sunday on Facebook that showed her severely injured daughter (warning: graphic), writing, "Lulu is such [an] amazing and [outgoing] little girl she has to make it [through] this she want[s] to be a senator when she grows up. … I want the man who is responsible for being so stupid and neglecting my daughter to be punish[ed] for this crime." (A Texas teen died last month after being thrown from a carnival ride.)