Mom Says Girl, 11, Scalped on Carnival Ride Is Awake and Talking: 'Elizabeth is Still Elizabeth'
The Nebraska girl left fighting for her life after she was scalped on a carnival ride is now awake and talking, her mother told Inside Edition on Friday.
Elizabeth Gilreath, 11, was critically injured Saturday when she slipped off a seat on a ride called Kings Crown and her long, red hair got caught in the ride’s spinning mechanism.
Elizabeth, who is called Lulu by her loved ones, suffered nearly 10 minutes of agony before a relative was able to stop the ride. She was rushed to an Omaha hospital, where she was sedated and underwent three surgeries.
But the strong little girl is putting up a serious fight, her tearful mother told IE.
"She's up and talking when she can," Virginia Cooksey said, adding that, in spite of her daughter's injuries, "Elizabeth is still Elizabeth."
Cooksey, who has shaved half of her head in support of her daughter, added that the little girl is "overjoyed and overwhelmed" that strangers have been donating towards her care.
On Thursday, Cooksey posted photos to Facebook showing her daughter in hospital.
“My amazing lulu… She’s such an amazing and strong little girl,” she wrote alongside the photos. “She’s talking, going potty, asking for hugs and [for] her tummy to be tickled lol!”
Lulu can also open one eye halfway, her mother wrote, sharing pictures of the progress her daughter has made.
“(She) says her head hurts but she’s amazingly strong!!”
Lulu experienced extensive damage to her scalp and muscles that are connected to her eyes, a family member wrote on the GoFundMe page created to benefit the girl and her family.
“At this point we are not sure if her scalp will die or stay alive,” a family member wrote after the incident. “If it does die Lulu will not be able to grow her own hair. Also at this time lulus muscles for eyes have been damaged so there is a chance that she may not be able to see again.”
Lulu’s sisters have begun a social media campaign to collect hair for the little girl.
“If you are brave enough cut your hair and send it to locks of love so a wig can be made for Lulu,” they wrote on her GoFundMe page.
Hair donation offers have been pouring in on social media under the hashtag #supportlulu and Locks of Love told InsideEdition.com it has received some inquiries about contributing to a hair prosthetic.
The organization has not yet heard from Lulu’s family, but said it will be happy to create the hair prosthetic when the time comes.
“We would love to be able to help her,” a spokesperson for Locks Of Love told InsideEdition.com.
Lulu’s mother has remained at her daughter’s side since the incident, posting on Facebook that in addition to the GoFundMe page, she has created a Wells Fargo account called Lulu’s Donations to receive any contributions people may want to share.
“Thank you so much for supporting my daughter and our family during this(sic) hard times. Lulu is doing really good the doctors are amazed at how good she is recovering. Please keep praying for my babygirl!!!
On Monday, the company that runs the carnival, Thomas D. Thomas Shows, responded to the tragedy in a statement obtained by InsideEdition.com.
"Thomas D. Thomas Shows values the safety and health of our guests above all else, and we are saddened by this accident.
"At this time, an investigation is underway. The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Thomas D. Thomas Shows are with the young girl and her family during this extremely difficult time."