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Criminal Charges for Operator of WI Park Ride

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By Jason Beahm on August 19, 2010 10:02 AM

A Florida girl plunged 100 feet to the ground at park ride in Wisconsin on July 30. The ride, "Terminal Velocity," located at Extreme World in Lake Delton, Wisconsin, allows park goers to fall 160 feet into a net and inflated air bags, The Associated Press reports. Charles A. Carnell, who was responsible for the ride, apparently "blanked out," and never saw the "all clear" signal before he released, 12 year-old Teagan Marti. Witnesses say that the ride's air bags were not inflated and the safety net was on the ground.

After Marti hit the ground, she was found with blue lips and gray skin, and bleeding from the ears, nose and mouth. According to doctors, she suffered swelling in the brain, severe fractures of the spine and pelvis as well as lacerations to internal organs. Teagan Marti is currently in critical but stable condition and could end up paralyzed.

Carnell has been charged by prosecutors with felony first degree reckless injury. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. According to the complaint, Carnell was "dive master" at the WI park ride designed to allow patrons to free fall.

According to the complaint, Carnell failed to receive an "all-clear" signal before releasing Marti to free fall. "It is high time that the state acknowledged that this ride, the way it was operated, was atrocious," said Stuart Grossman, an attorney for Teagan's family, The AP reports. "That [Charles A. Carnell] could be allowed through carelessness to drop a human being a hundred feet with no net extended is really a moral outrage."

First degree reckless injury is a Class D felony. It requires proof that great bodily harm was caused by criminally reckless conduct under circumstances that show utter disregard for human life. In order to convict Carnell, a jury would have to find that his conduct created a risk of death or great bodily harm; and the risk of death or great bodily harm was unreasonable and substantial; and that Carnell was aware that his conduct created the unreasonable and substantial risk of death or great bodily harm.

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