MADISON, Wis. — An amusement park worker “blanked out’’ before he let a girl plunge 100 feet to the ground on a free-fall ride, according to a criminal complaint.
Prosecutors charged Charles A. Carnell, of Lake Delton, with one count of first-degree-reckless injury, a felony punishable by up 25 years in prison.
The complaint, filed Tuesday, said Carnell, 33, was the dive master on the Terminal Velocity free-fall ride at Extreme World in Lake Delton on July 30. The ride offers patrons a chance to free fall about 160 feet into a net and air bags.
Teagan Marti, 12, of Parkland, Fla., entered the ride that morning. Carnell told investigators he rode in the cage with the girl and two others.
After the cage is stopped in its ascent a second time, Carnell said, he is supposed to look over the side of the cage and extend his arms, signaling all-clear to workers on the ground. A ground worker is supposed to return the signal, telling him the air bags are ready.
He said he didn’t look and didn’t get the signal from the ground. He said he “totally blanked out’’ and didn’t know why. When he looked through a trap door in the cage, he thought the bags were inflated. Witnesses, however, said the bags weren’t inflated and the safety net was on the ground.
Carnell then unhooked Teagan’s safety device and she fell to the ground.
Doctors said she suffered swelling in her brain and multiple severe spine fractures.