Crime & Courts

Woman accidentally injured during zombie survival experience in Elgin

Zombies rally the streets during the Venice Carnival, in Venice, Italy, Saturday, Feb.11, 2017. The Venice carnival in the historical lagoon city attracts people from around the world.
Zombies rally the streets during the Venice Carnival, in Venice, Italy, Saturday, Feb.11, 2017. The Venice carnival in the historical lagoon city attracts people from around the world. AP

The good news, there wasn’t an actual zombie apocalypse on Saturday night. The bad news, a woman was accidentally hurt during a zombie survival experience in Elgin.

The woman was struck by a piece of hard plastic fired from a real gun during an event at the Dark Knight’s Terror Trail, on Highway Church Road, according to Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews, whose deputies responded around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday.

Matthews said it was an accidental shooting and there were no arrests or charges filed.

The woman suffered a puncture wound in the upper side of her right leg and was taken to an area hospital for treatment, according to Matthews, who said it wasn’t a serious injury and added no other injuries were reported.

The incident happened during a part of the zombie survival experience that involves shooting simulated rounds of ammunition. Events were held on Saturday and Sunday, with another scheduled for 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday.

The woman, a participant and not an employee, was accidentally struck by a 7.62mm round fired from a gun that one of the event’s co-owners said was supposed to fire blank ammunition and not discharge any projectiles.

“The actors were experienced personnel with professional firearms training, and were some 30 to 50 yards away from the crowd and on top of a building structure, with instructions to aim at the treetops,” said Mitch Oates, co-owner of the Dark Knight’s Terror Trail. “The scenario was that marksmen were to clear a path through the zombie horde.”

This is the third year for this particular event, and Oates said it’s the first time there have been any problems.

“It’s my understanding the event has been done in the past with no issues,” said Matthews. “An accident happened. … Lots of care needs to be taken when using a real weapon.”

There’s no plans to use pyrotechnics, gun powder and blank ammunition – pending further review, Oates said.

“Our goal is to provide a fun and safe environment in which to scare and entertain our patrons and we routinely follow all possible safety procedures with pyrotechnics and special effects,” said Oates, adding he’s been in touch with the woman who was injured, saying she was in good spirits and doesn’t hold any ill will. “I’d like to express our heartfelt apologies to her.”

The Dark Knight’s Terror Trail website describes the event as a 2 hour survival experience, where teams of two work together and fight to find supplies in order to survive.

The website warns the event is frightening, and at times participants might be in total darkness, hear loud sounds, see flashing lights, and come into contact with “scare actors.” The cost to participate is $50 per couple.

Oates said Tuesday’s “My Zombie Valentine” event will be held as scheduled.

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