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10-year-old thrown from carnival ride at Taste of Summer in Antioch

Investigation under way after boy is thrown from ride at carnival
Investigation under way after boy is thrown from ride at carnival 02:31

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A 10-year-old boy was airlifted to hospital after being thrown from a carnival ride at the Taste of Summer Festival in Antioch on Sunday afternoon. 

According to Antioch Police, when crews arrived on the scene around 2:40 p.m., officers discovered the injured child, identified as Huntley Daniels. 

He was in critical condition Sunday evening, and remained so Monday.

10-year-old boy remains hospitalized after being thrown from carnival ride 02:32

A witness on the Moby Dick carnival ride at the same time as the boy said his harness was coming loose. 

"It was going up over my head, so I was trying every time I went, because it was going up, and I was almost about to fall out, I would slam down to close it, so that way I would not fall out," the other boy said. "Maybe on the third time around, he almost did like a dive, like his hands were down, and his legs were straight, off the ride, and landed right outside the entrance gate." 

Ten-year-old Huntley Daniels was thrown in the air while riding on a carnival ride at the Taste of Summer Festival in Antioch, Illinois, on July 16, 2023. GoFundMe

Police said Huntley was airlifted to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge in critical condition. He later was later transferred to the University of Chicago's Comer Children's Hospital, and went into surgery at 9:30 a.m. Monday morning.

CBS 2's Sabrina Franza has been in touch with Huntley's family all day. A family member told CBS 2 Huntley suffered serious injuries; including broken ribs, a broken femur, a broken arm, a cracked skull, a broken jaw, and his teeth being shoved into his gums.

"You never think it would happen to you," said Huntley's grandmother, Dawne Pohlman. "You think, 'Oh, this is just fun - this is what we do.' But then it happens."

Pohlman told Franza late Monday that Huntley was awake and stable. She said the boy's parents were too distraught to speak.

"My daughter called me in hysterics," Pohlman said. "It's just unbelievable."

Huntley loves the carnival, and his grandmother told us he would go to the Taste of Antioch event every year. 

"I could just tell you it was horrific, and they're not mentally holding up very well right now – so that's why I'm here, to help (Huntley's parents)," she said. "It's unacceptable. It's supposed to be a great place; fun place for kids, and honestly, I don't think I would ever want a child to be on a ride like that again."

10-year-old boy suffers serious injuries after being thrown from carnival ride 01:47

A GoFundMe page organized by the boy's uncle has raised more than $12,000 for his medical bills as of late Monday morning.

Antioch Mayor Scott Gartner ordered all of the rides at the event shut down on Sunday to allow officials to review the safety of each ride, but the festival was allowed to remain open for its last day on Sunday.

An investigation is underway with the Illinois Department of Labor, which is responsible for ensuring the safety of carnival rides, along with the Antioch Police Department, Antioch Fire Department, Illinois State Police, and the Lake County State's Attorney's office.

10-year-old boy in critical condition after being thrown from carnival ride in Antioch 00:52

Antioch Police Chief Geoff Guttschow spoke to CBS 2's Franza on Monday about what regulators with the Illinois Department of Labor know about the ride so far. 

Guttschow said the ride passed an inspection earlier this year, and the Department of Labor has launched a preliminary investigation to determine if the ride was performing properly on Sunday.  

"As a result of that early inspection, the inspector issued a stop order for that ride itself, which means that it is being pulled from service, and cannot operate at another community until they are able to conduct what they call a 'bolt-by-bolt inspection' at its next location," Guttschow said. 

The chief said that preliminary inspection determined something is wrong with the ride, but it's not clear exactly what went wrong yet, be it a mechanical problem or operator error.

"While they haven't issued their findings to us, and we're told those could take several months, they did find grounds to remove that ride from public service until such point that they can recertify the ride as safe for public use," Guttschow said. "There's been no conclusions on what the root cause of this incident was yet."

The ride passed its annual inspection, but the department still found enough evidence to remove it from circulation while they continue to look into possible mechanical flaws.

A family member claimed they noticed the operator was not checking harnesses before the ride began. Antioch police and the Department of Labor  are investigating to see whether or not that its true.

This is the second investigation to come out of the Taste of Antioch in two years. There was another child hurt – less severely – last year.

The same company was operating the rides at that point. The investigation is still ongoing.

The state Department of Labor did not elaborate on either investigation.

"The biggest thing is if you see any unsafe behaviors taking place – if you feel that the ride is not up to best safety practices – make sure you say something," said Guttschow.

Huntley's family now waits, and hopes for his full recovery.

"Very tough, very strong kid," Pohlman said.

Guttschow said the company operating the ride, All Around Amusements Inc., has been fully cooperative with the investigation.

All Around Amusements Inc. is also in charge of the amusement rides for multiple upcoming events in the Chicago area. 

Among the festivals for which All Around Amusements is a vendor is the Fiesta del Sol in Pilsen, which begins just in a few days.

The company did not respond to our request for comment despite multiple calls.

Monday morning, crews had begun taking down all of the carnival rides at Taste of Summer, after the festival ended Sunday night.

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