The mother of a young girl who was sitting next to the unrestrained child at the centre of the Sydney Easter Show ride scandal said the worker on duty wasn’t to blame.
Tristan Curtis was on the Free Fall ride on Sunday afternoon when horrified onlookers rushed to alert operators that his harness was not locked into place.
Photos circulating online show Tristan on the ride with the restraint open above his head. Other children sitting next to him each had their restraints firmly secured.
Melissa Rubio, whose daughter Lexi was a few seats down from Tristan, said the young ride attendant had checked their harnesses ‘three or four times’ and the children were never in distress.
‘My only child was on there, I would be the first to speak up if there was any form of negligence,’ Mrs Rubio told Daily Mail Australia.
‘She checked my daughter three or four times. All the kids’ harnesses were on, she did her job.’
Mother Melissa Rubio watched the incident play out with her daughter Lexi (above) sitting a few seats down from Tristan
Mrs Rubio said the restraint in question only came loose after the ride started moving.
‘I was standing right where the attendant was. It took 10 or so minutes to get them on, all strapped in,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘The attendant checked all their harnesses multiple times then they went up. It was probably only one or two metres in the air when we heard a loud metallic sound.’
Mrs Rubio said the young attendant immediately hit the ride’s stop button and none of the children onboard were concerned.
‘Tristan was calm, no one even knew what was happening,’ she said.
‘It had just started, they were barely in the air. Tristan started to lean forward and it was a man from the public who walked up and said would you like me to get him down?
‘He wasn’t in distress, no one was in distress, no one was yelling. The only person who was in distress was the operator.’
Four-year-old Tristan Curtis (pictured far right) was on the Free Fall ride in the Kids Carnival at the Sydney Royal Easter Show when his restraint malfunctioned
Mrs Rubio said several older men then appeared at the ride after the young attendant had hit the stop button, before all the children were taken down.
She said the young woman was ‘crying and shaking’ from the incident but insisted she was not to blame.
‘I don’t know this woman, I don’t know her family and my daughter is my whole life, my only child. If she’d done something negligent I can guarantee I’d have been one of the first to get on the bandwagon,’ Lexi’s mother said.
‘I wholeheartedly can say she wasn’t at fault. She reacted very quickly, at her age I wouldn’t have acted that quickly.
As soon as she heard the noise, as we all did, she pressed the button.’
The ride (pictured) at the Royal Easter Show was closed shortly following the incident
Mrs Rubio confirmed she has spoken to the young worker’s mother over Facebook, who said she was reluctant to return to work because she was so upset by the situation.
She maintains the issue was completely mechanical and the images circulating on social media didn’t tell the real story.
‘The ride was stationary for five or 10 minutes up in the air, so anybody could have taken that same shot,’ she said of the picture that went viral.
‘It’s not indicative of what happened. I’m not disputing the fact the harness is up but it wasn’t up when they left ground.
This attendant did everything she could, and I’d be the first to speak out.’
The young worker has since returned to work.
Mrs Rubio said she doesn’t want people blaming the young woman and believes it was a failure of the ride’s mechanics rather than any human error.
‘I was the first person up there to get my child off that ride, and I don’t know this girl at all, but she is not to blame,’ the mother said.
Mrs Rubio said there were several harnesses that had malfunctioned as soon as the ride started