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Festival ride operator dangles 30 feet in the air trying to save girl

A man came to a Texas festival as an employee and walked away a hero after helping to save a 12-year-old girl from falling out of the ride.
Posted at 5:28 PM, Oct 20, 2023

A typical day of helping festivalgoers have some fun turned into a terrifying day of potentially helping save a life for one ride operator in Texas over the weekend.

The man had been working the 54th annual Groves Pecan Festival in Groves, Texas, Sunday afternoon when his usual task of helping secure an attendee into a ride took a turn — literally.

As the ride operator helped young Juliana Bernal into a car on The Bullet, a strong gust of wind suddenly shot it into the air, Groves City Marshal Norman Reynolds said.

With Bernal still inside, the operator held onto the door to keep it shut, even as it spun 180 degrees then stalled 30 feet in the air.

Footage of the incident shows the operator hanging from the ride car in a struggle that persisted for about two to three minutes, while two to four children were in ground-level compartments. The worker can be seen successfully securing the ride door closed with his dangling foot, but that’s just as the ride begins to descend after other employees were able to empty the other children from the ride.

Child hospitalized after being thrown from carnival ride
Moby Dick ride

Child hospitalized after being thrown from carnival ride

The boy was on the Moby Dick ride at the Antioch Chamber of Commerce Taste of Antioch carnival on Sunday when he fell off.

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Bernal's mother, Caress Muraira, told 12News The Bullet was the first ride her daughter decided she wanted to do that day. They now hail the ride operator as a hero.

"My daughter was up there and talking to him saying, 'Please hang on. Don't fall,'" Muraira told the publication, saying her daughter saw the man's fingers bleeding where he was holding on. "I have seen this stuff happen on social media before. You never think it's going to happen to you, and then it happened. I am just so happy my daughter was saved and am so grateful to that man."

Both the operator and the child were reported uninjured in the incident, but Reynolds told 12News the operator had been shaken up by the incident.

The ride remained closed for the rest of the day.