A night of scary fun at an Halloween attraction turned deadly Friday when a teenage employee playing a zombie died in an accident. The 18-year-old employee of the Incredible Corn Maze in Hauser, Idaho, was run over by a bus ferrying paintball-gunning customers, officials say.
The corn maze’s customers paid to shoot employees dressed as zombies on the “Zombie Slayer Bus Ride.” Jeremy T. McSpadden Jr. of Spokane Valley, Washington, was dressed as a zombie as he ran toward the bus and fell.
He was run over by the rear passenger wheel and likely died “instantly,” officials said. The cornfield’s uneven terrain caused the bus to rock and shake so no one immediately noticed McSpadden had died.
“Many of the patrons believed it was just part of the ride,” the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. “It was not until the bus had traveled away from the victim’s location and the role players began to reset for the next bus to come along that anyone realized something was wrong.”
Officials do not believe alcohol or speed were factors. McSpadden was run over some time around 10:30 p.m., officials said.
“The focus of the attraction is the bus creeps forward so the customers have plenty of opportunity to blast away at the zombies,” Sgt. Crawford Ward told the Associated Press. “This looks like it was just a horrific confluence of events.”
The attraction’s staff said in a statement all events were canceled for the rest of the weekend. Some Facebook users criticized management for failing to make a statement that addressed the tragedy.
“[I am] not sure what you think only closing for a weekend will accomplish,” a user wrote. “[H]ow about condolences to the family? I don’t see that anywhere.”
McSpadden had just started his senior year at West Valley High. District spokeswoman Sue Shields told the Spokane Spokesman-Review a team of counselors would offer students support Monday. McSpadden’s twin sister attends West Valley, and his older brother recently graduated, the newspaper said.
“He had family there and lots of friends,” Shields told the newspaper. “It’s going to hit our West Valley family very hard.”