NEW details have emerged as police investigate a woman’s terrifying fall to her death at a popular amusement park.
A Tennessee woman was found dead under the chairlift at Anakeesta amusement park around 7.40pm on Thursday.
Police say they now believe the woman died of an apparent suicide.
All of the park's attractions are on top of a mountain in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, so visitors take a chairlift ride to enter and leave the park.
Jeffery McConnell told local CBS affiliate WVLT that he was visiting the park with his family when the woman, who he said was in her late 20s, fell from the lift three-quarters of the way up the mountain.
McConnell said witnesses tried to tell the woman her safety railing was up but she allegedly ignored them.
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Other witnesses told police that the woman “jumped from the chairlift,” city official Seth Butler told the station.
“The Gatlinburg Police Department’s ongoing investigation regarding the July 28, 2022 incident at Anakeesta has determined that the possible cause of death of the female who was found deceased underneath the chairlift is an apparent suicide,” Butler said in a statement to the network.
“The GPD Investigations Division was dispatched to the scene at approximately 7.41 pm on Thursday evening, immediately began investigating the incident, and took multiple witness statements which corroborated that the individual jumped from the chairlift.”
The state Department of Labor and Workforce Development confirmed that the lift was last inspected on April 21.
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Its permit was set to expire on August 4 and a new one was approved.
Inspection documents obtained by WVLT showed the device was compliant with the code as of its April 21 inspection.
The device was also compliant during inspections last November and April, as well as one in October of 2020.
The Chief Elevator Inspector from the Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Elevator Unit went to Gatlinburg on Friday morning to investigate the chairlift.
While on-site Friday, the inspector was set to conduct a mechanical inspection of the aerial lift and review multiple aspects of the lift’s operations, a statement said.
The park said on Twitter on Friday: "The Ridge Rambler is open today while the chondola is closed."
In a statement to News 10, park management said that they operated the chairlift after the incident so those on it could get off.
The lift was then shut down for "an abundance of safety to investigate the incident," the park said.
“Our deepest sympathies are with the family.
"The chair lift was thoroughly inspected 60 days ago by an outside inspector, and was again reviewed by our lift team after the incident.
“From initial review of the incident, it appears the death was not related to the operation of the lift.
"The lift was found to be in safe working order," Anakeesta said.
"We mourn this tragic loss of life. Our deepest sympathies are with the family."
Anakeesta told 10News that the state did another inspection Friday and approved reopening the lift.
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The state told the outlet it would not release any details of its investigation until it was complete.
The Sun has reached out to the park, city, and police department for comment but did not hear back by press time.
You’re not alone
SUICIDE is the 10th leading cause of death in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Leading Causes of Death Report from 2018.
There were "more than two and half times as many suicides" in the US than there were homicides, according to the report.
For people ages 10 and 34, suicide was the "second leading cause of death" and the fourth for individuals ages 35 to 54.
Suicide is a vital health concern in the U.S. It affects all genders, races and ages.
This is why The-Sun.com launched the You're Not Alone campaign.
The campaign calls on readers to discuss their mental health issues with their family, friends and health professionals. We can all pitch in to help out others who may be suffering and help save lives.
If you are struggling to cope, you are not alone. There are many free and confidential programs in the US aimed to help those who are struggling with their mental health.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health problems, these organizations are here to provide support:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org, 1-800-273-TALK
- Crisis Text Line, www.crisistextline.org, Text HOME to 741741
- Veterans Crisis Hotline, www.veteranscrisisline.net, 1-800-273-8255
- Trevor Project, www.thetrevorproject.org, 1-866-488-7386
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