Originally created 11/05/06

Hospital says girl in good health



The 13-year-old girl who suffered severe head injuries after being flung 60 feet from an amusement ride Oct. 26 continued to recover Saturday.

According to a Medical College of Georgia Hospital spokeswoman, Desire Northington was upgraded from serious to good condition, which is the highest condition on a scale that includes good, fair, serious and critical.

Desire also was able to speak for the first time, the girl's mother said. Reached by phone at her daughter's bedside, Tamara Epps said Desire greeted each person who came in her room with a warm "hello."

Until last Sunday, Desire had been in an induced coma for the injuries she suffered while riding the Orbiter at the Georgia-Carolina State Fair.

Initially, a state Department of Labor investigation concluded that Desire "panicked" and tried to get off the ride while it was still moving. After other witnesses provided a conflicting account, the investigation was reopened and is still pending.

The high-speed revolving bucket attraction is expected to remain closed through the end of the fair today, said Joe Taylor, the fair manager.

The ride was cleared to reopen a day after the accident, but on Oct. 27, state Department of Labor inspectors closed it again to inspect it further "purely out of an abundance of caution," according to Sam Hall, a spokesman for the department.

Mr. Taylor said the inspectors had completed their work, and nothing was found to be wrong with the ride.

State officials also shut down a similar ride at the Columbia County Merchants Association Fair called the Icon.

Reach Justin Boron and Timothy Cox at (706) 724-0851.