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Amusement Park Ride Operator Facing Felony for Dropping Girl

Posted on August 20, 2010

Charles Carnell, 33, made his initial court appearance in Sauk County, Wisconsin, Wednesday, August 18, charged with first-degree reckless injury, a felony which could bring him up to 25 years in prison and $100,000 in fines, the Associated Press reported.

Carnell was operating the Terminal Velocity free-fall ride when he failed to protect Teagan Marti, 12, of Parkland, Florida from falling 100 feet. She is in critical condition in a Wisconsin hospital. There is no word on her condition but her father, who is a doctor, reports he thought she was dead when he reached her after the fall. Teagan suffered brain swelling and may be paralyzed.

Carnell says he “blanked out” and forgot to get the all-clear signal before he released Teagan from the ride at Extreme World in Lake Delton July 30.

Because of this accident we are getting a look at how it was supposed to work.

Participants get in a cage which is raised to 165 feet above air bags. The dive operator (Carnell) is supposed to look over the side of the cage and signal all-clear to ground workers. In return, he is supposed to get a signal that the air bags have been inflated and a safety net is in place.

For some reason, Carnell says he “blanked out” and didn’t look and didn’t get the signal before he prepared Teagan and unhooked her safety device. Then he saw her fall and heard a thud.

The air bag had not been inflated. The only saving grace here is that Teagan fell 100 feet as the cage had not been taken to the top.

The family’s attorney says the ride needs a fail-safe mechanism and obviously just hand signals and a line-of-sight confirmation is woefully inadequate. He calls the ride and the way it was operated “atrocious.” We agree. To drop anyone 100 feet with no net extended is an outrage.

Unfortunately, every summer we hear about teenagers who are injured or killed on amusement park rides, usually because equipment has not been maintained, or operators are untrained. If you or a loved one has experienced an amusement park injury, the Jacksonville personal injury attorneys at Farah & Farah can offer a consultation on your case to seek compensation for your injuries and suffering.