Friday, June 13, 2008

New Jersey Landmark of Americana Sued

On July 7th, 2006 Scott Harris (shown recuperating with his Mom and finacee), an actor at the western theme park Wild West City in Netcong, NJ was shot in the head with a live round, when a fellow actor, seventeen year old (whose identity is being withheld) shot him in the head with what he apparently thought was a blank round. According to court papers it’s alleged that the teen received only five minutes of training before the incident.

Reports note that while the firearm used in the shooting, a Heritage 22-caliber revolver, was owned by Wild West City, re-enactors were allowed to bring their own weapons and live ammunition was also permitted, according to the lawsuit.

That, if true, would seem to be a reckless standard on behalf of the theme park.

Apparently, after inadvertently loading the gun with real bullets, the teen - who was taking part in a skit with Harris, one watched by numerous spectators - fired several times. Harris crumpled to the ground after being struck in the head.

Aside from the Civil Suit filed last Thursday (June 5th) there are also criminal charges pending. In 2007, Michael Stabile, McPeak and the theme park were charged with the third-degree crime of violating a law intended to protect public health and safety and with recklessly causing serious bodily injury.

Scott Harris’ attorney Andrew Fraser said, “"We hope to hold them accountable for what will be a lifetime of care."

Harris, 39, of Byram, is currently living in a group home in Harding township, NJ as he undergoes physical and speech therapy. He is paralyzed on his right side and grappling with "severe cognitive difficulties," although he has regained the ability to speak and has shown other improvements.

Asked about his ongoing recovery, Harris responded, "Long road." He said, "no," when asked if he felt any bitterness toward Wild West City.

Harris smiled and gave a thumbs-up when asked about his church's role in his recovery. Later, he rose from his wheelchair for about a minute by leaning against a conference table.

Wild West City has long been a major attraction in Northwest, NJ. It would be unfortunate if it’s time has passed.

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