Dells Extreme World operator charged in accident smoked pot three days earlier

Posted Tuesday, August 31, 2010 12:30 PM | Contributed by Jeff

The ride operator who accidentally released a Parkland girl on a 100-foot free fall told police he smoked marijuana three days before the incident, according to a detailed police report. But Charles "Chuck" Carnell, 33, denied he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol when he "blanked out" July 30 and let Teagan Marti, 12, fall to the ground and sustain severe injuries.

Read more from The Sun-Sentinel.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010 1:48 PM

Yes, the pot in this case was rather irrelevant. However, I see the value in mentioning it was to create awareness of the issues with drugs. Three days earlier he smoked. Is he a regular user? Has he used pot during his breaks or before work in the past? Most importantly, has the use of pot led this operator to become lazy or memory impaired that he cannot safely operate an attraction that is very dependent on the operator's safety measures?

Is three days prior revelavant? Probably not. Did he lie about the last time he used? Maybe. So it's something to consider.

Pot is a sad excuse for a high when there are roller coasters aroud.

For you people who want facts

Last edited by AJFelice, Tuesday, August 31, 2010 5:23 PM
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Tuesday, August 31, 2010 1:58 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
I can't figure out for the life of me why this ride doesn't have some sort of safety feature to help prevent accidents in the case of these 'moments' happening.

I'm surprised that she would even be dangled over the side prior to the net being in place. What if the cable fails, or the clip, or the harness? Any of those failing wouldn't necessarily put the operator at fault but having the net up before the rider is in the ready position would prevent this type of catastrophic injury being the result of a system failure.

Sounds to me like the general operating procedures of these rides need a serious looking into before any of them are re-opened.


John
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Tuesday, August 31, 2010 2:01 PM

AJFelice said:
...has the use of pot led this operator to become lazy or memory impaired that he cannot safely operate an attraction...

You should probably get your hands on some of those "fact" doo-dads before you start talking about stuff you know very little about.


Brandon | Facebook

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010 2:16 PM

Gonch makes the pertinent point here, I think. The fact that this ride has no failsafe is the real story. I've never tried one of these, and given what I know about them now it's going to stay that way.

For what it's worth, here's the manufacturers web page:
http://www.montic.de/montic%20site/site-e/pages/scad.html


I develop Retro Games for macOS, iPhone, and iPad when not riding coasters.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010 2:24 PM

^^Seconded. Unless he was stoned on the job, I don't see how this is relevant to the investigation other than that it's another charge that he could have hung on his head (separately from the Extreme World incident).

Sensationalist and otherwise pointless article titling aside, this is the first account I've read that actually paints a picture of the operator in the moments after the accident. I'd previously sort of painted him as a negligent idiot, but I'm with Gonch on this one. It seems like he had a momentary lapse, and unfortunately it occurred at a moment that someone's life was in his hands. Once he realized what had happened, he reacted as I would expect any sane person to do, and part of me feels really bad for the guy.

I'm going to step outside for a second and let the engineer in me speak. Did this guy screw up? Yes. Should he be charged? I'm less sure. In my opinion, this sort of thing shouldn't be possible, at all, on an amusement ride. If the only thing preventing an operator from dropping a rider before the net's in place is a visual check, that's incredibly unsafe, incredibly shortsighted, incredibly, unbelievably poor design, to the point where I firmly believe that the manufacturer is more at fault than the operator, and absolutely should be sued for all that they're worth for putting a product so pathetically under-designed into operation.

Did the operator blow it and drop the girl before the net was in place? Absolutely, there's no question. My point is that it should have been impossible for him to make that mistake in the first place.

Last edited by BBSpeed26, Tuesday, August 31, 2010 2:24 PM

Bill
ಠ_ಠ

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010 2:50 PM
Robocoaster's avatar

Another vote for "non-issue; where are the failsafes?"

P.S. What gator said.

Last edited by Robocoaster, Tuesday, August 31, 2010 2:50 PM

They Live. We Sleep.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010 3:45 PM

What an odd article with the headline vs the content. As Carrie and Gonch pointed out this is really the first time we've seen a somewhat sympathetic view on the operator who made a terrible mistake.

I really doubt that anyone will be insuring these rides until a safety stystem is put in place to prevent future operator error. For trhe same reason we hardly have any coasters with manual break systems anymore, insurance companies obviously like to avoid any room for human error during operation. It's really shocking to me there isn't a safety system in place on something as potentially dangrous as this.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010 3:46 PM
RPM's avatar

I don't know whether to think the marijuana is relevant or not. On one hand, it was three days before the accident. But on the other hand, maybe he was stretching the truth because he feared they would give him a drug test. So better to acknowledge that 'sure I smoke weed, but NEVER when at work.'

Another way to look at it; if I was waiting to board that ride, and heard the operator talking about the 'fun' he had over the weekend, would I still ride? I highly doubt it, and that makes the information relevant to me.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010 5:11 PM
Jeff's avatar

That's a good point. Hard to prove, sure, but I still think relevant. I've seen the PSA's, and pot smoking makes you stupid and flaccid. Like melting chocolate. But I also think the cops were stupid not to test him.

And yet, I'm still not sure that charging the guy with a criminal offense is right either. Funny how nothing is ever easy in the news lately.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010 5:38 PM
sws's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:
I can't figure out for the life of me why this ride doesn't have some sort of safety feature to help prevent accidents in the case of these 'moments' happening.

I think the ride was initially going to have additional safety features; however before completing them, the designer started toking up, blanked out, and forgot to install them. ;)

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010 5:40 PM

The real story is crappy police work. You have a 33 year old suspect who works a carnival ride that has admitted to smoking pot 3 days prior and has just maimed a girl. On what planet do you justify not testing this guy? That family and that girl deserved to have a full and honest investigation. Instead we got police taking the word of the 33 year old carny who admits he uses drugs. In my opinion, there is no excuse.

And darn right it speaks to his character. I'm not sure if the drugs or the fact a 33 year old is working a teenage job, but there is no doubt a flaw in this man's character. I have to wonder if the local detectives were there smoking with him?

And yes, there should have been fail-safe's, but that is secondary to this man's negligence. If I push somebody off the Grand Canyon is it my fault, or the Park Service for not installing a fence? The guy admits he knew procedures and did not follow them. A 33 year man knows the consequences of dropping somebody from that high without a net. He obviously did not take his job seriously. And now a little girl is fighting to breathe.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010 5:42 PM

The only way I can imagine the pot-smoking having any relevancy is if he were a heavy, long-term user. Don't get me wrong -- I don't have anything against cannabis (except that it's against the law and I would never, ever try an illegal substance myself, of course). But studies have shown that long term, heavy usage can gradually take a toll on cognitive function -- like remembering to check if the proper safety measures for an amusement park ride were in place, for example.


My author website: mgrantroberts.com

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010 5:44 PM
Jeff's avatar

That's what I was after regarding the goofy PSA's. If it does make you dumb, then it absolutely matters. I've seen it destroy my brother's life, and a friend recently ended her marriage over it.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010 6:39 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Lots of things make you dumb. They're just not irrationally illegal and easy to point to as a potential problem. :)


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Tuesday, August 31, 2010 7:18 PM
LostKause's avatar

Aamilj said:
I'm not sure if the drugs or the fact a 33 year old is working a teenage job, but there is no doubt a flaw in this man's character.

Ummm...Okay. At what age is the cutoff for working at an amusement ride before we consider them to have a character flaw? Have you ever been to Dollywood before? I suppose, with that line of thinking, that a lot of DW's employees are losers that have something drastically physiologically wrong with them?

What about Universal Studios? Or Disney? Or your local fair? Do you not approve of their lifestyle or respect them? We, of all people, should be respectful of amusement park employees. Geesh...


His age should have meant that he was mature enough to operate this attraction. I kind of feel sorry for him at this point. We don't know what his problem was. He could have been under stress not relating to the ride at all, and maybe had an off day.

I starting to place more of the blame on the manufacturer and/or the park. Rides are supposed to be reasonably safe.


I know about a bigillion people who smoke pot; some who are older and smoked it all their lives. They have held good jobs, raised loving families, and seem normal to me. They don't appear to be the stereotypical burned-out stoner that is portrayed on TV and in movies. YMMV.


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Tuesday, August 31, 2010 7:48 PM
Raven-Phile's avatar

I tend to ignore that guy, LK. I do agree with you, though. I only know a few people who turned in to burnouts, and that's mostly because they started doing other drugs in high school.


R.I.P LeRoi Moore 9/7/61 - 8/19/2008
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Tuesday, August 31, 2010 8:01 PM

Aamilj said:


. A 33 year man knows the consequences of dropping somebody from that high without a net. He obviously did not take his job seriously. And now a little girl is fighting to breathe.

From what I read he has been working there a while.Anything you do a lot can become common place.
He has probably dropped a lot of people.
Is there a rotation of personal on this ride ?
He dropped this girl but it doesn't say if he had control of how high it stopped.
Was the ground observer doing anything to let him know the net was not up ?
How many of us have not been paying attention and driven through a red light .
If we did and hit someone would it be criminal ?
Not unless we were drunk (or high) or had an impairment that we should not be driving with.
Was he stupid ? Yes Is it criminal That needs to be proved in court.
Without a drug test we may never know.
How many potential jurors have read this article ?

Kevin38

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010 9:42 PM

^ At first I wondered that too. Were the police releasing this information to cover up their own screwup of not testing Carnell for drugs immediately afterwards? Even by saying it's a non-issue, the headline serves to plant a seed of suggestion.

But the article appears to be from a paper in Florida, where the Marti family lives, so I doubt many potential jurors will read this version of the story. Whether there was a similar article published in Wisconsin, I don't know.

This makes me wonder more what the purpose of the article was, since the headline is so sensational, then several paragraphs down, it's said Carnell's pot smoking wasn't an issue. Oh wait, maybe it was to sell more papers to unsuspecting voyeurs hoping to read some lurid tale like the Manson family opened a branch commune in Wisconsin.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010 10:18 PM
Jeff's avatar

I don't think it sells more papers, especially since it was not likely on the front page. Heck, even with us linking to it, I doubt it's generating substantial amounts of revenue. I think the headline is what it is because people will care about it. Even we can't agree here if it's a relevant detail. That being the case, it would be irresponsible for the paper to not report it.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010 10:38 PM
Rick_UK's avatar

Was he working three days before the accident?


Nothing to see here. Move along.

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