Air cannons and pumpkins — they go together like America and apple pie. Or, if you were attending Delaware’s world famous Punkin Chunkin competition, like oil and water. An air cannon at this year’s festival exploded, sending debris in all directions and sending one woman to the hospital with critical injuries.
It is certainly a sad setback for the pumpkin-launching competition, which just re-launched itself after a two-year hiatus following an injury lawsuit from 2013.
Failure to Launch
As reported by the Delaware News Journal, air cannons at the Bridgeville competition can fire pumpkins more than 3,000 feet in the air. Apparently, the trap door on this particular cannon, called Punkin Reaper, flew off upon firing on Sunday, launching pieces of the device into the head and face of a female attendee, leaving her motionless as paramedics and emergency responders rushed to her aid.
Despite initial reports that the woman had passed away, she was stabilized at the scene and flown by helicopter to a nearby medical center, where she reportedly remains in critical condition. Another man was injured in the cannon accident as well, and Punkin Chunkin officials closed the event grounds and asked people to clear as the two received treatment.
As noted above, this is not the first injury trouble to befall Punkin Chunkin in recent years. In 2013, event volunteer Daniel Fair filed a negligence and premises liability lawsuit against the festival after suffering spinal fractures when he was thrown from an ATV while working the 2011 event. While that lawsuit was settled out of court, it did put the chunkin’ competition on ice for the past two years.
Whether another lawsuit follows this catastrophe, and whether the Punkin Reaper’s malfunction at this year’s festival buries Punkin Chunkin for good, remains to be seen.
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