‘I was thinking I was going to die’: Virginia teen recounts getting hair caught in go-kart engine

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FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — A day of fun at a Virginia amusement park turned into a nightmare for one family after their teen daughter’s hair got caught in a go-kart’s engine, pinning her to the vehicle.

Matia Ruffin, 16, said the experience at the Fun Land in Fredericksburg over the weekend traumatized her. Her hair was ripped from her scalp, leaving her with a large bald spot and a lot of pain. Cell phone video shows Ruffin stuck in a go-kart and surrounded by paramedics.

“I was thinking I was going to die,” the teen said. “I thought that was my last time.”

Unique Coleman, Ruffin’s mother, said they were on the new multi-level go-kart race track when she heard screaming.

WATCH: Cell phone footage shows paramedics working to help get Ruffin out

“My first instinct was I got to get her out of this go-kart,” Coleman remembered. “She was panicking, and her legs were up in the air, um, her head was kind of leaned and tilted back.”

The teen’s braid got entangled in the go-kart’s engine, trapping her for what she said felt like an hour.

“It was horrible,” Ruffin recalled. “It was scary, horrifying, it was bad.”

Coleman said Fun Land employees tried to cut Ruffin’s hair with two knives and wire cutters but were unsuccessful. The pulling just increased Ruffin’s pain and authorities were eventually called.

Paramedics were forced to take apart the go-kart and use a harness to lift Ruffin out.

“She had a blood clot where her scalp actually lifted from her skull,” Coleman said.

Ruffin said her once shoulder-length hair is gone. The high school sophomore hasn’t been to school since the incident.

“It’s completely bald; there’s nothing there,” she said. “I’m self-conscious, scared to show people. I’m stuck with it for life. I have nightmares about it. I think about it all the time.”

A go-kart rule listed on Fun Land’s website states that hair longer than shoulder-length must be secured. Ruffin said her hair was tied up during the incident but the speed and wind caused it come loose.

“The staff, I didn’t feel like they were equipped to handle any emergency situation,” Coleman said.

Fun Land’s General Manager said they are aware of the incident and that nothing like it has ever happened before at the park. Officials at the park said safety policies are in place at Fun Land and employees do undergo training for emergency situations.

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