'It's horrific': Boy, 10, remains hospitalized after fall from carnival ride at Taste of Antioch

Antioch village officials say he wasn't fastened in his seat properly

ByTre Ward and Stephanie Wade WLS logo
Tuesday, July 18, 2023
Boy hospitalized after fall from Antioch carnival ride
Antioch officials said a child fell from the Moby Dick carnival ride at the Taste of Antioch Sunday and was airlifted to a hospital.

ANTIOCH, Ill. (WLS) -- A 10-year-old boy who was thrown from a carnival ride at the Taste of Antioch Sunday afternoon remains hospitalized.

The Antioch Fire Department received a call at about 2:40 p.m. Sunday, of a child who had been hurt in a carnival ride during the Taste of Antioch. The 10-year-old boy, Huntley, was airlifted from Antioch to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge in critical condition.

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Village officials said Huntley was thrown from the ride while it was in motion after he was not properly fastened. That's when a family tradition turned into the unthinkable.

"It's horrific. "Unacceptable. It's just unacceptable," said Dawne Pohlman, the boy's grandmother. "They go every year. They've grown up in Antioch."

Huntley's family said he was transferred to Comer Children's Hospital, where he was undergoing surgery Monday morning. His family said he is conscious.

Pohlman said Huntley's mom was watching from below, and when he went airborne, she tried to go to catch him before he crashed to the ground.

"My daughter called me immediately. Before she even ran to him, she called me. She couldn't see him that way," Pohlman said.

His little sister blew kisses to the helicopter that carried Huntley to Comer Children's Hospital in Chicago to undergo multiple surgeries. The majority, his family says, are to his face.

"This is a life-changing event for the whole family," said Nancy Tapuaiga, Huntley's great-aunt.

Now, Huntley's loved ones bracing for the boy's long road to recovery even after he's eventually released from the hospital.

""They're going to need counseling, the whole family. This is not an easy situation. It makes you think about life in a whole different way, especially for a 10-year-old," Tapuaiga said.

Ronald Hipólito said his wife and son also had issues on board the same carnival ride last week.

"My wife said she had to stop the ride, because my youngest son felt insecure inside the roller coaster," Hipolito said. "He felt like he was going to fly out."

The incident happened on the last day of Antioch's summer food and entertainment festival.

"The carnival was packed, and so a lot of people experienced seeing it," said Charles Smith, Commander of Operations for the Antioch Police Department. "It's a traumatic event for our community."

As the injured boy was rushed to Lutheran General, Mayor Scott Gartner made the call to shut down all carnival rides for the remainder of the event.

"Not only for the, you know, respect to the family that went through this, but also for the safety of the rest of the residents to make sure there weren't other rides that could potentially be an issue," Gartner said. "The public safety for something like this is first and foremost."

Antioch village officials, along with the Department of Labor, investigating what went wrong, with a full report expected in the coming months.

Antioch Mayor Scott Gartner released a statement:

I wanted to provide an update on yesterday's tragic accident at the Taste of Summer.

First, please pray for the 10-year-old boy who was injured, and his family, as they navigate through this traumatic experience. I am told the boy was in surgery this morning at Comer Children's Hospital in Chicago. He is in critical condition but is thankfully stable with no life-threatening injuries. His family has set up a Go Fund Me page to help offset some of the costs related to his recovery. Donations to the family can be made here: https://gofund.me/0de6a456

Later today, I will be joining other representatives from the Village of Antioch in a meeting with representatives from the Antioch Chamber of Commerce. The Taste of Summer carnival is an annual event that is organized and run by the Antioch Chamber of Commerce and is one of the most well-attended community events each year. We plan to work with the Chamber of Commerce to identify exactly what led to this horrible accident and how we can work together to ensure nothing like this will happen again in our community.

The Antioch Police Department has been joined by the Illinois Department of Labor to investigate yesterday's accident. I am told that representatives of both agencies worked through the night to examine the Moby Dick ride extensively. Due to the expected length of the investigation, a full report from the Illinois Department of Labor is not expected to be released for a few months.

Finally, I wanted to recognize our first responders who acted quickly to bring aid to the victim of this accident. The Antioch Police and Fire Departments did a phenomenal job yesterday. Also, watching our community come together to help the victim and his family has been comforting during this traumatic time.

Many businesses are promoting fundraising efforts for the family. Also, our local elementary school district, District 34, has made counselors available today between 12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Oakland Elementary for kids/families who need support.

The Antioch Chamber of Commerce also released a statement, saying, "Huntley and his family have our deepest concerns. We are reviewing this incident because it is absolutely imperative for all vendors participating in the Taste of Summer to make the safety of our residents their top priority. Huntley and his family are in our thoughts and prayers, and we wish him a speedy recovery."

ABC7 has reached out to the operator and owner of that ride, All Around Amusements, for a comment, but has yet to hear back.