Police: No crime, no negligence in fall from Great Escape ride

October 19, 2017 06:41 PM

QUEENSBURY - From the time it happened in June, everyone was wondering what caused a 14-year-old Delaware girl to slip under a safety bar on the Sky Ride and drop.

Now we know.

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"This case is closed by investigation," said Lt. Steven Stockdale of the Warren County Sheriff's Office.

NewsChannel 13 obtained a copy of the police file, including statements from witnesses, park security and a conversation police had with the girl herself, a couple weeks after the incident.

Neva Nowell who is now 15, told investigators "she started feeling dizzy and sick about two minutes into the ride." She told them she "leaned back and that's when she slid out of the seat."

The police report says the girl told them "at first she went right up to her chest and then to her neck."  

With her younger brother sitting in the ride, she dropped 25 feet into the arms of Matthew Howard from Schenectady.

Police took photos and measurements, and tested the ride.

Their conclusion: No crime. No negligence.

"We weren't able to ascertain any criminal wrongdoing. It appears to be just what it was which was a tragic, unforeseeable accident," said Lt. Stockdale. "That ride's been in existence for 49 years and nothing like this has ever happened before. So it would be grossly irresponsible to point to the Great Escape and say they were somehow negligent."

NewsChannel reached out to Jonathan Damashek, the Nowell's family attorney in New York City, and he said, "they're hoping to resolve the matter without litigation."

Great Escape replied to NewsChannel 13's questions with a statement:

"After thorough review by engineers and the state Department of Labor, the Sky Ride was cleared to resume operation with no modifications.
Out of an abundance of caution, we added an additional positioning bar on the restraint that's placed between the riders' legs."

The park says they've also added a visual aid reminding riders to stay in the correct seated position.

If the Nowell family decides to pursue litigation, Damashek says they have three years to bring a suit.


Mark Mulholland

Copyright 2017 - WNYT-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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