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Ride Operator Pleads No Contest in Amusement Park Accident

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Wisconsin Dells, WIThe man who was involved in an amusement park accident that left a young girl paralyzed pleaded no contest to the charges he faced concerning the horrific theme park accident. Although the young girl survived her ordeal, she suffered severe injuries in her amusement park accident.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal (03/01/11), Charles Carnell was convicted of felony second-degree reckless injury following his no contest plea. Carnell was ordered to pay $268 in court fees and to provide a DNA sample. Carnell initially faced charges of first-degree reckless injury, which could have resulted in penalties of $100,000 and 25 years in prison.

The incident that led to charges against Carnell happened in July 2010, when Teagan Marti, 12 years old at the time of the accident, went on the Terminal Velocity ride at Extreme World. An investigation into the incident revealed that Marti was dropped too soon from the ride—before the cage she was in had reached the top and before the safety net was in position.

Carnell reportedly told investigators that he blanked out prior to releasing Marti from the cage and did not get the all-clear signal from the coworker who operated the net.

Marti fell approximately 100 feet to the ground and suffered a broken spine and pelvis and lacerations to her organs. Despite Marti's massive injuries, Carnell was not required to pay restitution because a civil lawsuit between the Marti family and Extreme World is addressing that issue.

Meanwhile, SeaWorld is launching a new killer whale show following the death of a trainer who was drowned by a killer whale. SeaWorld has reportedly implemented new safety rules, including having trainers in the water during training sessions only, providing safety bars and requiring ponytails to be wrapped in a tight bun.

Critics, however, say the problem is that the whales are bored and lack social and environmental stimulation.

A year ago, trainer Dawn Brancheau was grabbed and dragged underwater by a killer whale named Tillikum during a show. Since the tragedy, Tillikum has been kept at a distance from trainers and from the public.

According to Dr. Jeffrey Ventre, who worked as a trainer at SeaWorld for four years (quoted by CBS News; 02/24/11), Brancheau's sternum was broken and her left arm was bitten off. "It took an additional 30 minutes just to pry his jaws open and get her out of him. And I think that these are the reasons why…SeaWorld doesn't want to open these hearings up. Because the details are horrific."

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