A young woman who was told she’d never walk or talk again after being struck by a rollercoaster last year has made a miraculous recovery.
Shylah Rodden, now 27, sustained life-threatening injuries when she was hit by a Rebel Coaster carriage at the Melbourne Royal Show on September 25, 2022.
She suffered severe brain damage and serious injuries to her head, pelvis, arms, legs and back after the fairground ride hit her at 70km/h and threw her nine metres into the air.
Her prognosis in the days after the tragic incident was bleak – with her father revealing there’s hardly a thing that’s not broken” as Shylah remained in a coma.
But her mother, Kylie, has revealed in a rare statement to the media that her daughter has “defied the odds” and recovered unexpectedly quickly.
“We are so grateful to see her progress from the horrific injuries she suffered,” she said in a statement supplied to the Herald Sun.
“She has defied the odds and is now walking, talking and doing things that we were told by doctors, may not be possible”.
Mrs Rodden added that her daughter had been deeply impacted by “relentless abuse and crticism” online.
“What happened was a tragic accident, which as a family we’ve had to deal with,” she said.
“To be hearing and reading the negative comments made in the media and on social media has been hurtful to Shylah and our family.
“This sort of negativity has a real impact on the progress that has been made.”
“We’ve done our best to shield Shylah from these comments, as so much of it has been misguided and, in many instances, cruel..
“Unfortunately, Shylah has seen these comments and they really affect her.”
Rollercoaster back in action
A year after the tragedy, the rollercoaster that hit Ms Rodden is back in operation at the Melbourne Royal Show despite ongoing investigations into its operators.
According to the show’s website, showgoers will be charged $15 to ride the Rebel Coaster, which spruiks “dips, loops, sharp bends & lots of thrills”.
The ride is open to people aged six and above, as long as they are over 130cm tall.
Although WorkSafe Victoria has remained tight-lipped about the progress of its investigation into the incident and the ride operators – who have not been hit with any charges – it is understood that a dedicated team of inspectors and engineers will inspect every ride operating at this year’s show before the gates open.
A spokesperson for WorkSafe Victoria confirmed to news.com.au earlier this month that investigations are “continuing”.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Melbourne Royal Show confirmed organisers had installed additional CCTV cameras across the event site, particularly in the carnival precinct, to provide more coverage and better footage of activity on and around rides.
Tragic rollercoaster incident caught on camera
A bystander filming his sister and partner on the ride uploaded graphic footage of the horrific incident to TikTok at last year’s show.
It is understood Ms Rodden, who had been working at the show on the day of the accident, had walked onto the Rebel Coaster track to retrieve her phone, which she dropped during a ride she and a friend took while on a break.
Fellow carnival worker Brendan Mogler, who was working on the Rebel Coaster when Ms Rodden was struck, spoke of his anguish and vowed to “never work another ride again” after the incident.
It is understood WorkSafe’s investigation is largely focused on what the ride’s operators were doing when Ms Rodden stepped onto the tracks.
News.com.au is not suggesting any wrongdoing by Mr Mogler.
Shylah’s family oppose reopening of ride
Ms Rodden’s family have opposed the decision to reopen the ride so soon after the incident.
Ms Rodden was reportedly discharged from the hospital in January and moved to another healthcare facility for ongoing treatment in her long rehabilitation.
This year’s Melbourne Royal Show will run from September 21 until October 1.