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Girl severely injured on State Fair ride that killed her boyfriend speaks of her recovery

Girl severely injured on State Fair ride that killed her boyfriend speaks of her recovery (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - For the first time, a former University of Cincinnati student is telling her story about what happened to her when an amusement ride at the Ohio State Fair fell apart.

Keziah Lewis was on “The Fireball” when it snapped on the first day of the Ohio State Fair last summer. It killed her boyfriend and nearly killed her.


Local 12's Duane Pohlman sat down exclusively with Keziah, who is still recovering six months after the tragedy.

In just about every way, Keziah Lewis' world has been shattered. She lost a young man she loved and nearly lost her life.

Her spine and a lot of other bones were shattered and she was partially paralyzed for months.

But Keziah is fighting to reclaim her life.

As a word of warning: There are a couple of pictures of Keziah that you may find disturbing. They show her in the air just before she crashed to the ground.

  • KEZIAH: “I go to the fair and I ride that ride every year.”
  • DUANE: “Every year?”
  • K: [Shakes head in affirmation]
  • D: “You liked the Fireball?”
  • K: “Yeah.”

Last July, Keziah Lewis was on the Fireball again, this time at the opening day of the Ohio State Fair, with her boyfriend, Tyler Jarrel.

  • DUANE: “Did you love him?”
  • KEZIAH: “Yeah. I did.”
  • D: “Did you tell him that?”
  • K: “I did. Yeah.”
  • D: “And he told you.”

K: [Shakes head in affirmation] “Yeah.”

But on that awful night, Keziah can't remember what happened.

  • KEZIAH: “I actually don't remember a lot from that day.”
  • DUANE: “You don't recall getting on the Fireball?”
  • K: [Shakes head to signify “no”]
  • D: “You don't recall that moment?”
  • K: [Shakes head to signify “no”]

The moment was horrific. A section of the Fireball that she and Tyler were riding, snapped, tossing them both in the air.

Pictures taken from a bystander's video were shown to Keziah

“It kind of looked unreal, like I was watching a movie or something,” said Keziah.

The picture shows her in the air, just before she crashes to the pavement.

  • KEZIAH: “I had to zoom in to make sure it was me… and it just kind of scared me all over again.”
  • DUANE: “Was that the first time you realized how really awful this was?”
  • K: ”Yeah.”
  • D: “What occurred?”
  • K: [Shakes her head to signify that she doesn’t know]

Keziah’s memory returned when she arrived at the hospital.

“When I first woke up in the ICU, I asked, where's Tyler?” said Keziah.

Tyler's funeral was held as Keziah fought to live.

“I broke my spine in two places,” said Keziah. “I also fractured my hip, broke my pelvis and broke my ankle and fractured my left shoulder.”

For two months, Keziah was partially paralyzed and battling severe pain. Even worse, she was having nightmares.

  • KEZIAH: “I used to have really bad nightmares in the hospital and, I’m told, I still do.”
  • DUANE: “So somewhere inside you, that moment is there, and it frightens you?”
  • K: ”Yeah. Before the accident, I never thought anything bad could happen to me. That stuff was only for the movies.”
  • D: “Can anyone make this right for you again?”
  • K: “No. Because nothing will ever be the same.”

So, Keziah prays to God and talks to Tyler.

  • KEZIAH: “I always tell him that I love him.”
  • DUANE: “Every night?:
  • K: [Shakes head in affirmation] “And that I wish we could trade places.”

Keziah is going to physical therapy trying very hard and get out of her wheelchair. In all, she's had 12 surgeries, but the cost of her care has been staggering. It’s more than $2 million and growing.

By the way, Keziah agreed to allow Local 12 to show those disturbing pictures because they're so important to understand what really happened to her and why she's still so afraid.

Those medical costs are staggering, so how will Keziah be able to pay for all that? That's where her lawyer comes in and there is some potentially good news for Keziah and the other victims.

Duane will report more on that subject on Friday 2/2. Also Keziah's mother talks to Duane about how painful it has been watching her daughter struggle to recover.

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