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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 July, 2004, 13:24 GMT 14:24 UK
Girl's Ferris wheel death plunge
Gulliver's World
The girl fell at Gulliver's World in Warrington, Cheshire
A girl with Down's Syndrome fell to her death from a Ferris wheel - after the attendant would not let her ride beside her mother, an inquest has heard.

Salma Saleen, 15, fell 30ft at the Gulliver's World theme park in July 2002, from a ride where it was claimed there had been previous safety issues.

Cheshire Coroners Court heard Salma, of Nelson, Lancashire, wanted to ride with her mother but was told to ride alone.

The jury also heard a safety bar fell open on the ride eight months earlier.

'Ride alone'

Her elder sister Rabia, who rode on the wheel a few minutes before, told the inquest her mother had tried to protest but was ignored.

She said: "When Salma was going to get on the gondola my mum was going to sit with her, the attendant said 'No, she has to sit on her own'.

"My mum doesn't know much English so she said 'Salma handicap' but they completely ignored her.

"Salma sat in the gondola and they put my mum in the next one."

Eyewitness Dr Stephen Cox said he noticed her in a "semi-standing position" just before she fell, but it is unclear as to how the fall actually happened.

'That's always happening'

A woman who rode the Ferris wheel eight months previously told the jury the safety bar in the carriage she was in with her five-year-old daughter had unlocked during the ride.

Lorraine Robinson, from Chorley, Lancashire, said: "I don't have learning difficulties, like the young lady we are talking about today, but I can honestly say it was the most frightening situation I have ever found myself in.

"The gondola was swaying backwards and forwards and I put my left arm across my daughter's chest to hold her in.

She told the inquest that when she reported the fault to the attendant, he said: "That's always happening."

Another witness told the inquest she became stuck in the ride when the safety bar refused to open.

The inquest, at Runcorn Town Hall, is expected to last three days.

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