During the Spring and Summer months, go-kart tracks around the country get very busy and are enjoyed by many riders. But, before you take your family for a ride, Lisa Guerrero and the I-Squad uncovered a potential danger you need to know about before your next spin around the track.
Shelbi Crouch isn’t afraid to take chances.
For her high school graduation present, she plunged out of a plane and went skydiving with her dad.
For her next adventure, she decided to try go-karting. Shelbi and her boyfriend went to Whiteland Raceway outside her home in Indianapolis. But, as Shelbi was driving her cart around the track, something terrible happened.
An employee at Whiteland Raceway placed a 911 call asking for an ambulance. “We’ve got an, um, girl that was riding a go-kart,” the caller told 911. “She’s had an injury….something with her head.”
Photos taken at the scene show the horrific accident. Shelbi’s beautiful, strawberry blonde hair had become entangled in the go-kart’s exposed rear axle. It pulled it so violently that Shelbi’s scalp was actually ripped off her head.
Shelbi lost 80% of her scalp in the accident.
Watch the entire video segment here.
“There were nights where I was just sobbing because it was so excruciating,” Shelbi told INSIDE EDITION.
She endured five surgeries and will likely have more to repair the damage.
“What has been the most difficult part of your recovery?” Guerrero asked Shelbi.
“The reality of me having my hair back the exact same is not very likely,” she said.
Experts say Shelbi’s accident could have been prevented.
“Did they give you any kind of safety instructions before you got in the go-kart?” Guerrero asked.
“No,” said Shelbi.
And, Shelbi is not alone.
INSIDE EDITION’s I-SQUAD found case after case across the country where go-kart drivers, most of them women, have been scalped.
So, how easy is it for your hair or an article of clothing to become entangled in a go-kart’s rear axle? Safety Expert Bill Avery, of Avery and Avery Safety Services, demonstrated how it can happen.
He set a female mannequin with long hair in a go-kart with exposed rear axles.
Once the engine was turned on, it took only a matter of seconds for our mannequin’s hair to get caught in the rotating axles, and ripped right off her head.
“This driver just died, because there was no simple inexpensive hair guard to cover the axel, which is inexcusable for anybody to operate a go-kart without one," Avery said.
He said simply pulling a person’s hair up isn’t the answer.
"What you have to remember is when a go-kart is going down the road traveling 18-20 miles per hour, a person's clothing blows behind them and so does their hair," Avery explained.
We wanted to see what would happen when a scarf became wrapped around the go-kart’s rear axle. As a result, our mannequin actually lost her head.
"What the sickening part is, this is solvable for very little cost," Avery said.
INSIDE EDITION went back to the racetrack where Shelbi Crouch’s accident took place to see if they had made any safety improvements.
We did notice a warning sign telling patrons to secure their long hair, and riders were required to watch a safety video before being allowed to drive a go-kart.
They also told Guerrero to put her hair up.
“Because we don't want your hair to get caught in anything," a Whiteland Raceway worker told Guerrero.
However, we found some of the go-karts rear axles were still partially exposed. The same dangerous problem that resulted in Shelbi’s scalping.
INSIDE EDITION tried numerous times to talk to the owner of Whiteland Raceway, but he refused to go on camera. However, he told us his go-karts comply with his insurance company’s standards, but would not comment on Shelbi’s case.
Now Shelbi’s mother can only feel anguish over her daughter’s horrible ordeal and loss of her beautiful flowing hair.
"Just seeing her struggle and as a mom, you're supposed to be able to make it all better. You fix things as a mom and I couldn't fix it." Shelbi’s mom, Sherri, said.
While some states have regulations requiring go-karts’ rear axles be covered, Indiana, where Shelbi was injured, does not.
To check to see what kind of regulations your state has for go-karts and other amusement park rides click here.