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Wednesday, 15 January 2014 14:44

Negotiations in progress over Ghost Town gunfighter incident

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Nearly six months after a staged gunfight left a Ghost Town gunfighter injured, the incident is still not resolved. 

Ghost Town amusement park in Maggie Valley was issued a $2,000 citation last month by the N.C. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Division for violations stemming from the injury.

 

Ghost Town representatives met with a panel from the Department of Labor on Dec. 31 to discuss the citation.

The issue stems from a July 6 incident in which Robert Bradley, a long-time gunfighter for Ghost Town’s staged Wild West gunfights, fell to the ground in pain when something from an “enemy’s” gun lodged itself 1.5 inches into his right thigh. 

The gunfighters use blanks, but in this case a projectile of some sort came shooting out of the gun. What it was exactly remains a mystery. Early speculation centered around wadding — paper or cloth used with blanks that is supposed to disintegrate upon firing. But Bradley contends the gun had been maliciously tampered with. 

The DOL citation claims Ghost Town failed to provide employees “conditions of employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.”

Specifically, the citation points to the three real 45-caliber revolvers and two real 12-guage double barrel shotguns that were used, loaded with blank ammunition, to stage the gunfights and to the removal of triggers from the revolvers so that they could be fired simply by pulling the hammers back. 

After receiving the citation, Ghost Town could choose to pay the fine, contest the decision or request an informal conference. They opted for the conference. 

“The informal conference gives them an opportunity to present any questions or problems they have about the citation,” said Dolores Quesinberry, communications director for the North Carolina Department of Labor. 

The conference’s results must be reviewed and finalized before they can become public, a process that Quesinberry said can take several weeks.

The conference could result in a compromised fine and hazard abatement requirements if Ghost Town and the department are able to come to an agreement. If they can’t, the department could issue a “no change” letter, meaning that the fine must be paid as first issued. Or, it could issue an amended citation.

“It’s like a negotiation,” Quesinberry said of the conference. 

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