Sheriff: No criminal negligence in corn-maze death

AP News
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Posted: Oct 15, 2014 5:06 PM

HAUSER, Idaho (AP) — Authorities say they found no criminal negligence in the death of a Washington state man who was hit by a bus at a zombie attraction in a northern Idaho corn maze.

The Kootenai County Sheriff's Office in Idaho said it doesn't plan to recommend charges in last Friday's death of Jeremy McSpadden Jr., 18, of Spokane Valley, Washington.

"We have found nothing that would rise to a criminal nature," sheriff's office spokesman Lt. Stu Miller said. "Simply a tragic incident."

However, workplace-safety officials are doing their own investigation to determine if there are potential hazards for other workers.

"We're going to be conducting interviews and doing a thorough investigation," said Dave Kearns, Idaho area director for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

McSpadden was a role player in the "Zombie Slayer Paintball Bus" attraction at the Incredible Corn Maze in Hauser, Idaho.

Witnesses said the teenager was dressed as a zombie when he emerged from his hiding place and ran toward a modified school bus carrying paintball players. Witnesses say he tripped and fell in front of the rear tires and got run over.

"This is an odd situation," Kearns said. "So we need to determine whether or not there was some sort of payment or compensation that was associated or if this was a volunteer effort."

The corn maze's operators have fully cooperated with the investigation, officials said.

"It was a way for them to earn a little bit of extra money and to have fun," said Robin Moritz, McSpadden's aunt. "They were so excited. It was Jeremy's first night out there. He hadn't been out there yet; all the other boys had."

In a Facebook post linked to its website, the Incredible Corn Maze says that "out of respect for the McSpadden family, the Zombie Bus attraction will remain closed." It says other maze attractions will reopen Saturday.

The Kootenai County Sheriff's Office is awaiting autopsy and toxicology reports before closing its investigation, Miller said.