She's had two head surgeries, three skin grafts, one eye surgery, and 28 blood transfusions.
Elizabeth Gilreath, who goes by Lulu, was on a ride last May when her hair became caught, causing her to be scalped. Lulu’s mom wrote about the terrifying ordeal on Facebook and included graphic pictures of her daughter in the hospital to try to raise awareness about the potential dangers of amusement park rides.
Now, a year later, Lulu is speaking out about her experience. Lulu, who's 12, told NBC affiliate WOWT 6 News that the first thing she remembers is waking up in a hospital bed with her mother nearby. “I told her, ‘I feel like my head was smushed mom,’” she says. “And then she told me what happened.” Since the accident, Lulu has had two head surgeries, three skin grafts, one eye surgery, and 28 blood transfusions.
Lulu also recalled the first time she saw herself after the accident. She said the doctors forgot to cover the mirrors in the bathroom and that she had to be taken back to her room. Her mom, Virginia Cooksey, wrote about the moment on Facebook last year.
"Lulu is stronger than me," she said. "My baby girl saw herself for the first time today. The way she handle[d] it [gave] me strength."
Unfortunately, this isn't the only report in recent years of an amusement park ride resulting in injuries, and in some cases, even death. The ride Lulu was on is known as the King's Crown, and it spins around and around as you're lifted up in the air. According to a statement made to WOWT NBC Nebraska, the ride passed inspection just two months before Lulu's accident.
Lulu is still facing complications as a result of her injury. A few weeks ago, she had to go to the hospital after she developed a serious infection that inflamed her entire scalp. She will also undergo another eye surgery soon. “If I keep focusing on something you’ll see my left eye daze away,” she says.
Lulu’s red hair is growing back on one side of her head, which she seems happy about. “I loved my hair. It was extremely rare,” she says. “And now, I can actually pull my hair up in a ponytail.”
Above all, Lulu says she’s just enjoying being in sixth grade and moving beyond her accident. “I can’t believe it’s almost a year now,” she says.