A sixth-grader whose hair was ripped from her head during a carnival ride insists that “my scars don’t define me.”
In May 2016, while on a spinning ride called King’s Crown at a Cinco de Mayo carnival in Nebraska, 11-year-old Elizabeth Gilreath endured a horrific accident. While she fell from her seat onto the ground, her red hair was ripped from her head — along with her scalp — and her skull was fractured.
“She was tortured,” her father, Timothy Gilreath, told NBC News last May of the experience that left his daughter unable to speak and required her to undergo two head surgeries, eye surgery, several skin grafts, and 28 blood transfusions.
Now, the 12-year-old is sharing details of the accident with Omaha local news station WOWT. “I can’t believe it’s almost a year now,” Elizabeth told the website on Wednesday. “I told her I feel like my head was smushed, Mom. And she told me what happened.”
At the time, Elizabeth woke up in the hospital with her beloved curls gone. “I loved my hair. It was extremely rare,” she said. “And now, I can actually pull my hair up into a ponytail and the thing is it’s growing.”
After the accident, Timothy and his wife, Virginia Cooksey, launched a GoFundMe page to raise money to help pay for their daughter’s medical expenses. While it’s no longer active, according to the New York Daily News, it raised $60,000.
Cooksey did not reply to Yahoo Beauty’s request for comment; however, she told WOWT that the family has filed lawsuits against the company that made the carnival ride — which, she says, didn’t have seat belts — and the state of Nebraska.
Elizabeth is on the mend, but she’ll undergo an eye operation in the near future. And although the girl says she’ll never visit a carnival again, she refuses to dwell on the past. “My scars don’t define me,” she told WOWT. “Nobody’s scars should define them.”
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