Extreme World employee charged in Marti fall - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Extreme World employee charged in Marti fall

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Teagan Marti Teagan Marti

SAUK CO (WKOW) -- A thrill ride operator involved in a 12-year-old girl's free-fall to the ground admits to investigators he made a mistake.

Ride operator 33-year-old Charles Carnell will continue to work at Extreme World in WIsconsin Dells.

He faces criminal charges for his role in a thrill ride accident that left 12-year-old Teagan Marti of Florida critically hurt.

Police arrested Carnell Tuesday.

He faced a Sauk County judge Wednesday afternoon, charged with first-degree reckless injury.

His defense attorney, Chris Van Wagner, said, "Charles is devastated. He's just devastated. He feels absolutely horrible about what happened here."

Carnell was a "dive operator" of the ride Terminal Velocity at Extreme World on July 30.

According to a criminal complaint, the operator at the top of the ride was supposed to watch for an all-clear signal from the operator at the bottom.

That operator inflates the air bag that catches patrons more than 100 feet below.

Investigators say the airbag meant to catch Marti was not inflated yet, and that the cage at the top of the ride was stopped before it reached the top. Carnell told investigators he didn't look over the side of the cage, "other than the first time it stopped."

In the criminal complaint, Carnell told investigators he didn't look for a signal at the bottom of the ride before he let Marti loose. He told investigators he "totally blanked."

Van Wagner adds, "A classic case of operator error.. human error, a mistake."

Van Wagner says he doesn't agree with the criminal charges.

Sauk County assistant district attorney Jennifer Harper said, "The victim is still in the pediatric care unit, she still has multiple lacerations to her internal organs.. is on a ventilator... it is anyone's guess as to how long she is there."

Prosecuting attorneys asked that Carnell have no contact at all with Extreme World. The Sauk County Judge decided he will be allowed to continue his work. He won't be allowed to operate the thrill rides. Terminal Velocity remains closed.

Carnell faces up to $100,000 in fines or 25 years in prison.

12-year-old Teagan Marti is still at UW-Hospital on a ventilator.

The Marti's lawyer says a family representative will make a statement Friday.

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BARABOO (WKOW) -- A judge set a $1,000 cash bond for Charles Carnell, 33.

He appeared in Sauk County court this afternoon.

The judge also ruled that Carnell not have contact with the victim nor operate any of the three thrill rides at Extreme World. 

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Lake Delton police have arrested Charles Carnell, a 33-year-old ride operator at Extreme World in Wisconsin Dells. Carnell was working on the Terminal Velocity ride on July 30, the day Teagan Marti was dropped from the ride and fell 100 feet before the ride's net was in place. The teenager suffered multiple fractures in her neck and back, according to her family, and she is still being treated at American Family Children's Hospital.

The Sauk County District Attorney's Office charged Carnell with First Degree Reckless Injury, a class D felony. According to Lake Delton police, officers took Carnell into custody at approximately 4:40 Tuesday, and he was taken to the Sauk County jail.

The Sauk County District Attorney's office tells 27 News Carnell will make his initial court appearance today.

Marti's family had no comment on the charges.

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