Girl scalped by carnival ride aims to pass law to protect other kids

OMAHA, NE -- A brave girl from Nebraska whose scalp was ripped off after her hair got caught in a carnival ride hopes to help protect kids from getting hurt on rides in the future.

In May, 11-year-old Elizabeth Gilreath buckled herself in for her first-ever carnival ride on the "King's Crown" in Omaha. Cell phone video shows after the ride started to spin, her long, red hair became tangled in the "handle bar assembly" of the ride, yanking out her scalp.

Elizabeth, better known as Lulu, was critically injured and spent a month in the hospital. She had six surgeries, including two skin grafts and 22 blood transfusions. She underwent hyperbolic oxygen and leech therapies. Doctors managed to save about 25 percent of her scalp. Lulu can now see out of both of her eyes, but her left eyelid is still swelling. She'll need more surgery to fix that.

Lulu sometimes suffers separation anxiety and emotional distress. She said she has even locked herself in her room before.

"Because I don't like being seen," Lulu said.

"Her anxiety will kick in she'll get upset. We have to stop what we're doing and calm her down," said Virginia Cooksey, Lulu's mother.

But the soon-to-be sixth grader is healing. She hopes to spend more time with her family and friends in the future and return to school part-time in the fall. Lulu said she loves history and spends a lot of time reading. Her mom said she even wants to be a politician one day.

Cooksey told KETV her family hopes to pass legislation called "Lulu's Law," which would make carnival ride inspections tougher.

The family is suing the ride operator, but their lawyer said the company has not yet responded to the lawsuit.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation.