Woman leaps to her death from Anakeesta theme park ride in Tennessee after she was observed lifting the safety bar of a chairlift she was riding and jumping 40ft to her death.
A female attendee at a Tennessee theme park is believed to her taken to her own life after lifting the safety bar of a chairlift she was riding in and jumping 40-feet to her death, witnesses claimed.
The ride was approximately three-quarters of the way up along the mountain at Chondola when the woman fell from the ski lift ride, WATE reported.
Authorities had yet to publicly identify the woman, after she leapt from the Anakeesta chairlift in Gatlinburg, TN, on Thursday evening.
Come Friday, investigators with the Gatlinburg Police Department said they were investigating the incident as an ‘apparent suicide,’ WVLT reported.
The woman who was not publicly identified, hailed from LaVergne, TN and was said to be in her 20s.
Here’s video of some event at Anakeesta in Gatlinburg TN. pic.twitter.com/GgKsCdisb7
— Jay (@jayfoldsfive) July 29, 2022
‘A few seconds later she jumped …’
Andrew Berta, who was at the park with his family Thursday evening, said they were next in line to get on the chairlift when an officer came up ‘crying.’
‘We talked with the cop after he came up the mountain literally crying. It was a suicide,’ Berta claimed on Facebook according to the dailymail. ‘A family who we talked to and a staff member who saw it said the girl put her rail up at the highest part of the ride…a few seconds later she jumped.’
Several witnesses on the chairlift confirmed the girl’s safety bar was risen up before her death, but her official cause of death has not been released.
Even after she fell, the theme park – which is located in the mountains and only accessible by bus or chairlift – continued to operate the lift for another 10 to 15 minutes and told guests ‘not [to] look down.’
‘You could see the concern on everyone’s face that was getting on,’ witness Jay Deuro told WVLT.
In a statement, Anakeesta said the lift was operated after the incident only long enough to allow guests who were onboard to exit. A spokesperson said the ride had been thoroughly inspected 60 days prior by an outside inspector and deemed safe and was again inspected after the incident.
Anakeesta said it has the chairlift inspected every six months with the operating permit set to expire on August 10. However, the new permit for the lift had already been approved.
The park has ordered a new inspection of the lift after the fatal fall. The chief elevator inspector from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development performed the inspection this morning.
The chairlift is closed today, according to Anakeesta’s social media pages, but the park remains open.
In a statement, the park said ‘our hearts are with the family of the deceased,’ but it couldn’t disclose any further information at this time, due to the investigation.
The investigation could take up to eight weeks to complete and information will be limited until then, police said.