Ride operator sentenced in Wisconsin Dells accident

Posted Friday, March 4, 2011 12:57 PM | Contributed by ToddConstantine

The former amusement park employee who dropped a 12-year-old girl 10 stories last summer from a thrill ride in Lake Delton has pleaded no contest to a lesser charge, ending the criminal case against him. Charles Carnell, 34, was convicted Thursday of felony second-degree reckless injury by Judge James Evenson in an agreement with the Sauk County District Attorney's office. Carnell was sentenced to pay $268 in court fees and must give a DNA sample.

Read more from The Wisconsin State Journal.

Saturday, March 5, 2011 8:01 PM

This is akin to me screwing up badly on a forklift at work, injuring someone, and being charged with a felony for it, even it is something as simple as misjudging where my forks are and dropping something, a completely honest mistake.


Terribly dangerous precedent! And I make 3 times the money an hour as this poor minimum wage sap.

Last edited by MagnumsRevenge, Saturday, March 5, 2011 8:09 PM

-Brent Kneebush

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Saturday, March 5, 2011 8:18 PM

I would consider the forklift analogy applicable if the guy was doing something like going twice the speed limit while carrying something. I don't think its as simple as making a mistake. It has to be something that should simply not be possible to screw up. There should never be a reason to go twice the speed limit while carrying something, and there should never be a reason to drop someone without getting the all clear from below.

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Saturday, March 5, 2011 9:38 PM

LostKause said:
Thanks for reposting that, ideame.

Charles Nungester said to me:

Read the article and not just the opening text. Up to 12 1/2 years. Sentencing hasn't taken place...

But the article says:

Carnell was sentenced to pay $268 in court fees and must give aDNA sample.

I was too passive a while back. Why don't YOU read the article, Chuck. :)

I believe that the article was stating that he could have been sentenced up to 12 and-a-half years, but because he pleaded to a lesser crime, his sentence was reduced, and he wasn't criminally charged. You can get that much without even clicking over to the article. He WAS sentenced.

Heck, Chuck, Sentenced is even in the Title of this topic.

-1 for being passive :)

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Saturday, March 5, 2011 9:41 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

ideame said:
Question: do you consider there to be criminal liability in this case?

Nope. I don't believe a crime was committed.

Liability, sure. But nothing criminal was done here.

I just don't understand why you think being an employee absolves you of responsibility. Why should there be no consequences to any actions taken while on the clock?

Because that's kinda how it works. As long as there's no intent to cause harm, you're technically part of the company while on the clock, not an individual. Your employer is responsible for your actions.

In this case he wouldn't have been dropping people from 100 feet up if it weren't the requirement of his job. Flat out. He was performing a duty asked of him by his employer and he made an error while doing it.

Not sure why this guy personally took the fall.

Beyond that you could also question why a ride was allowed to operate in a way that would let a scenario like this happen.


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Sunday, March 6, 2011 7:46 AM

In my neck of the woods, we've had people from 30 years ago who shot someone and severed there time get arrested cause the person died from injuries that were caused from that original incident. So now they are being charged with murder. I wonder if this could happen to in this case.


Thanks,
DMC

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Sunday, March 6, 2011 8:18 AM

MagnumsRevenge said:
This is akin to me screwing up badly on a forklift at work, injuring someone, and being charged with a felony for it, even it is something as simple as misjudging where my forks are and dropping something, a completely honest mistake.

If you were higher than a kite at said job, and killing someone for your dumb act, wouldn't you think legal action would be taken against you?

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Sunday, March 6, 2011 11:06 AM
LostKause's avatar

But the police screwed up, and didn't test him to see if he was messed up on drugs during the time of the accident. He admitted to using drugs days before the accident, which explains why he had drugs in his system, but it couldn't be proven that he was high when customer's lives was in his hands.

What if that fork lift was manufactured without safety features? What if the company who hired the fork lift operator didn't ensure that te fork lift was safe to operate? That's what happened here.

It's not entirely the fault of the ride op. Remember that the park was acting suspicious with the "ride" after the accident occurred.


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Sunday, March 6, 2011 11:57 AM

Lord Gonchar said:

Because that's kinda how it works. As long as there's no intent to cause harm, you're technically part of the company while on the clock, not an individual. Your employer is responsible for your actions.

What about an operator who doesn't physically check lap bars because they looked like they were locked. In this case, he isn't "making a mistake" but willfully ignoring his training. Does that raise to intent to harm for you?

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Sunday, March 6, 2011 12:05 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

No idea. Don't care. That's not what happened here.


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Sunday, March 6, 2011 12:10 PM

Travis I know that's not what happened in this case. I was just using that as an example. Maybe a bad example, but an example non the less.

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Sunday, March 6, 2011 1:23 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
No idea. Don't care. That's not what happened here.

At first, I didn't think that was what happened here either. I just wanted a better idea of your views on the subject. But now, I'm not so sure. Do we know that this was truly the one time he didn't exchange signals? Did he routinely flaunt safety measures? Or was this really just a one-time mistake.

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Sunday, March 6, 2011 3:29 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Seems like a question that's would be pretty impossible to answer. No way to really know that. I have to assume that were it true and someone had noticed, it would have come out.

To me, there's no reason to believe this wasn't a one-time screw-up that happened to have the most horrible of consequences attached to it.

And more to what I suspect you're trying to get out of me - I think there's a difference between being negligent and being criminally negligent.


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Monday, March 7, 2011 4:36 AM

I have to agree with Gonch here. There's no way the ride should have been designed to ever allow for this type of human failure. I've worked on a Skycoaster, which despite some misconceptions, is easily the safest and most idiot-proof ride out there. If an operator were to screw something up, it would be obvious before the flyers even got off the ground. Other rides I've worked on have had similar redundancies built in to prevent any one person's mistake from causing a catastrophic failure. The fact that this ride apparently did not should cause the blame to fall squarely on the park and the ride manufacturer, not the ride op.


And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

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Monday, March 7, 2011 6:58 AM

LostKause said:
If he was on drugs at the time of the accident, than wouldn't it be equivalent to drinking and driving?

Depending on the drug - pain meds might be the equivalent. But since I think you're alluding to pot, absolutely not. Do some basic research.

LostKause said:
The moral of the story is don't do drugs and operate amusement rides. Even if he wasn't on drugs while he was at work, drugs still could have played a factor in the accident.

Or, you know, not. I don't know why you insist that drugs are at fault here, when there's no evidence to suggest as much.

I mean, if we're going to go your hyper-anti-chemical-route, shouldn't we investigate whether the guy was on cold medication? Or antidepressants? Or if he just didn't get a good night of sleep the night before the accident?

The guy got an appropriate sentence, in my opinion. No way should he have to spend time in prison for making an honest, yet devastating, mistake.

I suspect some of the "devil's advocates" here suggesting he deserves a harsher punishment would be singing a starkly different tune if they were in Carnell's shoes.


Brandon | Facebook

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Monday, March 7, 2011 12:28 PM
LostKause's avatar

djDaemon said:


Depending on the drug - pain meds might be the equivalent. But since I think you're alluding to pot, absolutely not. Do some basic research.

I hate it when people tell me what to research or look up on the internet. It's silly, and has a rude tone. I don't need to research the effects of pot, or any other drug, because I don't use them. I'm not totally against drugs. I know plenty of people who use and haven't had a real problem with it.

So you are saying that you would get onto a ride operated by someone who is lighting up and is high on pot? I sure wouldn't knowingly do so.

I don't know why you insist that drugs are at fault here, when there's no evidence to suggest as much.

I'm not really insisting that drugs was a factor here, but it could be a good explanation for what happened. I'll say it again, would you want Charlie Sheen, in his current state of mind, to be operating a ride that you were on? Too much drug use can burn out the brain. That's my point. He could (or couldn't, perhaps) be a burnout. We don't know. It's my imagination trying to make sense of it.

I mean, if we're going to go your hyper-anti-chemical-route, shouldn't we investigate whether the guy was on cold medication? Or antidepressants? Or if he just didn't get a good night of sleep the night before the accident?

I didn't mean to come on as someone with a "hyper-anti-chemical-route". I just think that people who operate amusement rides should be clean, given that they could be in control of heavy machinery that has human beings attached to them while moving erratically.

And yes, I feel the same way if someone is on cold medication. It says right on the label of most, if not all, cold medications, to not operate heavy machinery while using the product. Also, most parks require that their ride operators get a good night's sleep in their code of conduct.


The guy got an appropriate sentence, in my opinion. No way should he have to spend time in prison for making an honest, yet devastating, mistake.

I suspect some of the "devil's advocates" here suggesting he deserves a harsher punishment would be singing a starkly different tune if they were in Carnell's shoes.

I've been a ride operator before. I was a good employee who didn't use drugs during my employment. I didn't show up to work with a hangover, and I got enough sleep each night before work.

Seeing that Carnell bargained for a lighter sentence by pleaing No Contest to a lesser crime, I'm sure his punishment could have been a lot worse. Even accidentally running over someone in your vehicle and almost killing them would get jail time, with or without being high or drunk or whatever, and that's a lot like this, in my opinion.

I feel bad for the guy, really. But that doesn't mean that he should get away with negligently almost killing someone because he was not paying attention. I wouldn't want to see him in prison for the 12-and-a-half years (the maximum punishment), but a little time behind bars might do some justice in this case.

AND, The park and ride manufacturer should take some responsibility also.

Last edited by LostKause, Monday, March 7, 2011 12:35 PM
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Monday, March 7, 2011 2:12 PM

LostKause said:
I don't need to research the effects of pot, or any other drug, because I don't use them.

And yet you feel knowledgeable enough to make assumptions about their effects and implications in legal matters. That's why I was so "rude" to suggest you might want to get learned.

So you are saying that you would get onto a ride operated by someone who is lighting up and is high on pot?

Probably, depending on the attraction. Would I "ride" one of these bungee cordless bungee cord jumps? Hell no. Like Gonch said, the failure here is in the attraction design itself.

I just think that people who operate amusement rides should be clean...

By whose standards? You seem to be implying that if I smoked a bong load last night, I'm not capable of being alert right now. Someone could make the same argument regarding alcohol. Or Nyquil. Or a big turkey dinner.

I've been a ride operator before. I was a good employee who didn't use drugs during my employment. I didn't show up to work with a hangover...

So, you did do drugs (if I'm to assume you consumed alcohol, as per the hangover comment).

But that doesn't mean that he should get away with negligently almost killing someone because he was not paying attention.

But what would a prison sentence accomplish? Is his prison time some magical elixir that will prevent him from making mistakes ever again? If so, I'll gladly spend 2 years in prison.


Brandon | Facebook

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Monday, March 7, 2011 7:07 PM
LostKause's avatar

I would probably never come close to "riding" an attraction like this either. It seems very unsafe to me.

You seem to be implying that if I smoked a bong load last night, I'm not capable of being alert right now.

No. Since you want to put yourself into the scenario, I was implying that if you smoked a LOT of pot all of the time, and were what some people call a "burnout", you are probably not going to be capable of being alert all of the time. I know, second-hand, that smoking that stuff doesn't cause negative effects immediately, but I also know second-hand that long-term, it can make people dumb. I've seen it.

Taking you out of the scenario, and speaking about the story that is on topic, I was implying that he may be a burn out. I don't know anyone who wants a pothead burnout to operate a ride while they are riding it.

So, you did do drugs (if I'm to assume you consumed alcohol, as per the hangover comment).

Nope. I drink rarely. I have hung out at bars for either listening to or performing music, and I may carry the same one beer bottle around with me all night (Killians). So, no, I don't abuse drugs.

What's with you? Instead of getting all defensive, you could just say that you don't mind a druggie operating a ride that you are riding and be done with the conversation. I'm not judging anyone here. I believe that drugs and rides don't mix well. Do you really believe that burnouts are capable of operating rides safely? I accept your opinion without getting upset about it.

As for learning about pot and "doing research", I have read both positive and negative articles about it. It's a controversial issue. You can't prove to me that pot is great, because I can come right back and prove to you that pot is not great. I could tell you to do some research too, because what you learn about it depends on what you want to hear.

Plus, I'm not entirely against pot. It completely healed a family member's glaucoma. It calmed the nerves and upset stomach of a friend of mine while he was going through cancer treatment. I don't think that someone operating amusement rides, or heavy equipment, should be doing any drugs though.

...

I seriously don't wish to talk any further about drug use and amusement ride operators. From this point, we probably wouldn't have anything new to add, and would be talking in circles, and just personally attacking each other, and then defending ourselves, which doesn't sound like a good CoasterBuzz time to me. It's slightly annoying to try to have an argument about drugs with a druggie anyways, assuming that you are a druggie.

We agree on more than we disagree with on this topic anyways.

Last edited by LostKause, Monday, March 7, 2011 7:59 PM
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Tuesday, March 8, 2011 2:39 PM
Raven-Phile's avatar

LostKause said:
I may carry the same one beer bottle around with me all night (Killians).

Killian's? I'd carry that around all night without drinking it, too. ;)

I kid, sort of. I don't mind the big brewing companies, and I love the hell out of an ice cold Budweiser, but my heart lies with craft beers these days. Give Ithica Beer Company's Caskazilla a try sometime. It's a red ale, but it's got enough hops that it drinks like an IPA.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011 3:14 PM
Carrie M.'s avatar

LostKause said:

As for learning about pot and "doing research", I have read both positive and negative articles about it. It's a controversial issue. You can't prove to me that pot is great, because I can come right back and prove to you that pot is not great. I could tell you to do some research too, because what you learn about it depends on what you want to hear.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and wanted to re-post it. Brilliant.


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011 3:24 PM

Raven-Phile said:
...my heart lies with craft beers these days.

It really is an amazing time to love beer.


Brandon | Facebook

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