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Attorney Christopher Van Wagner CBS Early Show Wisconsin vs Charles Carnell Extreme World Wisconsin Dells thrill ride operator fallWISCONSIN DELLS WI. On July 30, 2010, a 13-year old girl was accidentally dropped a little over 100 feet when Charles Carnell, Extreme World's thrill ride operator blanked out and released her before safety nets were in place.

Sauk County District Attorney Patricia A. Barrett filed charges against Carnell for First Degree Reckless Injury, a Class D Felony carrying penalties including up to 25 years imprisonment and up to $100,000.00 in fines.

The CBS "Early Show" co-anchor Erica Hill interviewed Carnell's criminal defense lawyer, Attorney Chris Van Wagner, asking why Carnell was back to work only two weeks after the accident. Van Wagner said, "First, the Dells is a place where there's a ten-week work season," Van Wagner said. "You go from two weeks before the Fourth of July until Labor Day. The people from the Dells are hard working, blue-collar people and they put in 20-hour days for 10 weeks. He is an all-purpose guy there. He's been there all his life, since he was 16. There's work to be done. He is an honorable man. He feels terrible. But when he came back to work it was because he owed that obligation to his boss and he continues to honor it. He's devastated. He thinks about this every day. It's breaking his heart. It really is."

CBS "Early Show" co-anchor Erica Hill  asked Attorney Van Wagner what happened during the accident. Van Wagner replied. "He had one of those momentary space-outs. That's human nature. We have it while we're driving, while we're talking, while we're sitting here. It's awful. It's terrible. But we don't believe it's criminal."

Van Wagner said, "Amusement park accidents are uncommon in Wisconsin, as are criminal charges in those types of personal injury cases."

Attorney Van Wagner refused the Sauk County DA's settlement offer, motioned the court for dismissal of the charges, and proposed a settlement offer to the DA. That offer was accepted and approved by the judge.

Charges against Carnell were reduced to Second Degree Reckless Injury, a Class F Felony carrying penalties of up to 25 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.00.

Carnell was sentenced to pay a fine of $268. He was not sentenced to prison, nor did he receive any other penalties from the court.

First-Degree Reckless Injury

First-degree reckless injury is defined under Wisconsin statutory law as causing great bodily harm to another human being under circumstances which show utter disregard for human life, or causing great bodily harm to an unborn child under circumstances that show utter disregard for the life of that unborn child, the woman who is pregnant with that unborn child, or to another person.

First-degree reckless injury is a Class D Felony, a very serious criminal charge that can result in sentencing of a fine up to $100,000, imprisonment of up to 25 years, or both.

First-degree reckless injury is not a lesser included crime of aggravated battery, nor can it be used against a mother for actions taken against a fetus.

Second-degree Reckless Injury

Second-degree reckless injury is defined under Wisconsin statutory law as recklessly causing great bodily harm to another human being or to an unborn child.

Second-degree reckless injury is a Class F Felony, with penalties of a fine up to $25,000, imprisonment of up to 12.5 years, or both.

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If you are under investigation for a reckless injury crime, if you have been arrested, or if you have already been convicted and believe your conviction was wrong or your sentence was too harsh, please call ( or ) or e-mail the attorneys at Van Wagner & Wood right away for a brief but professional "first-impression" analysis of your case at no cost to you.