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Ghost Town gunfight negotiations finalized

A compromise has been reached between Ghost Town in the Sky and state inspectors over a violation and fine stemming from a staged gunfight at the Maggie Valley amusement park.


Ghost Town’s owner has signed an agreement with the N.C. Department of Labor Division of Occupational Safety and Health, accepting a set of stipulations for maintaining an employee health and safety program in exchange for a $700 reduction in its penalty. 

“You have to show you’re going to do these items, as agreed upon in this conference,” explained Dolores Quesinberry, communications director for the N.C. Department of Labor. 

The story began last July when one of Ghost Town’s routine Wild West gunfights ended with Robert Bradley, a long-time gunfighter at the Maggie Valley theme park, bleeding on the ground. Though the gunfighters use blank cartridges in their staged skirmishes, that day one of the guns shot a projectile that lodged itself 1.5 inches into Bradley’s right thigh. Early speculation postulated that wadding — paper or cloth used to ignite the blanks when fired — was the culprit, but Bradley contended that somebody had tampered with the gun with the intent of injuring him.  

The doctor who attended Bradley discarded the projectile before the controversy surrounding its existence surfaced, so it’s unknown exactly what it was. But the incident resulted in an investigation by the DOL. Their finding? That 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.”

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According to the citation that DOL issued Ghost Town, the company used two real 12-gauge double barrel shotguns and three real 45-caliber revolvers. The triggers were removed from the revolvers, and they could be fired by simply pulling the hammers back. 

After receiving the citation, Ghost Town asked for a conference with DOL representatives to discuss the violations. The parties met on Dec. 31 to work out a final agreement.  

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

The agreement was signed on Jan. 16 and finalized on Jan. 23. It does not make a determination of fault but merely works out the terms for going forward. 

To reduce their fine from $2,000 to $1,300, Ghost Town agreed to institute — and periodically update — a safety and health program for its employees, which will include an analysis of hazards related to various tasks employees perform. Ghost Town will train its employees to recognize and avoid hazards and meet with them regularly, encouraging them to participate in workplace safety activities and taking their safety-related suggestions or complaints. In addition, Ghost Town will periodically inspect worksites and create disciplinary procedures to ensure the safety rules are followed.  

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