AUGUSTA, GA. (WFXG) - One side says an incident on a ride at the Western Carolina State Fair could’ve been deadly. The other side - says fair-attendees threatened a ride foreman causing the foreman to quote ‘freak out.’
In any event, the woman’s Facebook post about the incident is going viral.
“I have lost my voice from screaming so loud. Just terrified, tears screaming down our eyes,”
What was supposed to be a fun night at the fair - turned into a nightmare.
"It was the worst two minutes of my life. it really was."
Chelsea Dempsey and her family boarded the Tornado Saturday night at the Western Carolina State Fair. The ride - tubs that sit on a spinning disk. In full operation that turns at at 17 revolutions per minute.
Dempsey claims after the ride started, the attendant rushed over to her family’s seat to push the bar - that’s supposed to secure them- down. But the ride started before he could get off, and soon they were 10 feet in the air.
“So, my husband had to grab onto him and he’s literally yelling, ‘oh, my God, I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die I’m gonna die. And my husband says, ‘no you’re not, I’ve got you.’ And we just start yelling for the ride operator to stop the ride," Dempsey said.
She said if the ride attendant hadn’t risked his life to make sure her family was secured, they all could have fallen to their death. After getting off the ride, Chelsea said the ride’s foreman blew her off when she confronted him about the incident.
Dempsey said, “He was very nonchalant, said 'I’ve been doing this for 25 years. I know what I’m doing, go speak to somebody else if you have an issue.”
So, she did. She said she was told a supervisor would talk to her. When he would not give her his name, that’s when she started recording on her phone.
“If I didn’t have his name, I could at least have that. And he hit my hand, and threw the phone about 20 feet away, knocking it into a stroller with a baby in it," Dempsey recalled.
She filed a police report - then took her frustration to Facebook in a post that's been shared more than 600 times - after she claims no one at the fair could tell her the man's last name.
A Google search would reveal the man she claims slapped her phone is none other than Ryan Reithoffer with Reithoffer Shows. Chelsea said she contacted the company - and never got a response. So FOX 54 reached out.
Reithoffer Shows responded and said that they got a different version of what happened.
In a statement sent to FOX 54, the Risk Management Office claims someone in Chelsea’s tub - grabbed the attendant and wouldn’t let go. It reads, "our attendant had never had this happen and he stated he was ‘freaked out’.
The company rep claims Chelsea made a scene, spit on the foreman and demanded a refund. Reithoffer Shows claims the police did not take a report because there was no evidence of an assault...
Captain Eric Abdullah with the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office said that’s not the case.
“He made his attempts to try to figure out who the guy was, all they gave him was a possible name to contact management out there, but nobody could definitely give him a definite identification on the suspect," Captain Abdullah explained.
And without being able to contact the other party on scene, the deputy determined there was no criminal intent. Captain Abdullah said investigators are open to receiving any information that can move this case forward.
Reithoffer Shows said no patron was in danger at any time - but Chelsea has a different perspective. She said this experience has changed her - and she and her family will never attend a fair again.
Reithoffer Shows response to the allegations/claims made by Ms. Chelsea Dempsey on 10/27/2018:
The Tornado ride consists of tubs that sit on a spinning disc that when in full operation the disc is raised into the air and spins at approximately 17 RPM’s. During the normal course of operation, the Ride Attendant walks around on the platform as the ride starts its initial operation and then he jumps onto the spinning disc to double check the lap bars. When our attendant went to check their bar, he was grabbed by the patron in the tub. Our attendant stated she yelled “you are going to die” in which he replied, “no I’m not, let me go.” Our attendant had never had this happen and he stated he was ‘freaked out’ the patron wouldn’t let go. The Ride Foreman immediately engaged the emergency stop when he saw the woman holding our attendant. Similar to a moving car, it takes several seconds for the ride to stop and once our attendant was released by the patron, he jumped off the disc, scared but unharmed. The Ride Foreman then proceeded to operate the ride, as there were numerous customers on the ride and no one was in any danger as alleged by Ms. Dempsey. After riding the ride, Ms. Dempsey started yelling and screaming about the ride being unsafe and continued to yell at our operator and attendant as well as causing a scene in front of the ride telling other customers not to ride. Our foreman stated he apologized profusely to Ms. Dempsey and tried to assure her that neither she, the patrons or our attendant were ever in any danger, however her anger elevated and at one point, she spit on our foreman. Mr. Ryan Reithoffer arrived on the scene and offered to escort her to the Police. She was yelling at him and shoving her phone in his face as he was walking to the Fair Office to summon the police. He repeatedly asked her to stop putting her phone in his face and with his hand (while the phone was in his face) he picked the phone up out of her hand and dropped it in the grass. At no time did he come in contact with her, he only touched her phone. She told Mr. Reithoffer she wanted her money back, the $100. she had spent, and he advised her he didn’t think a refund was warranted since she had been there all day, which further infuriated her. Our General Manager arrived at the Fair Office and sat with Ms. Dempsey, the police and fair officials for over an hour. To the best of our knowledge, the police did not do a report as there was no evidence of an assault or injury (other than our employee being grabbed) and no reason to write a report, however we are still waiting on confirmation of same. Reithoffer Shows has owned and operated the Tornado ride for 29 years and we have done so without an incident of this nature. We had no complaints either before, during or after this incident. Our Ride Foreman has been operating the Tornado for more than 25 years and our Ride Attendant has been with us for more than 20 years. Both are highly qualified and well trained in the operation of the Tornado ride. At no time was any patron in any danger, nor was our attendant once he was released from the grips of the patron.
Here is Chelsea’s Facebook post: