It’s dark, there are zombies everywhere and your only defense against the undead is a paintball gun.
Although this may sound like the perfect real-life adaptation of a video game, zombie shootouts hosted during Halloween are dangerous events that should have been shut down after the tragic accidents that occurred last year. Halloween events in general have gotten nearly out of control with regard to safety.
According to The International Business Times, the Inquisitr and the Raw Story, on Oct. 11, 2014 the Incredible Corn Maze in Hauser, Idaho, shut down all its events after an actor dressed as a zombie died.
At the Zombie Slayer Paintball Bus, customers rode on a modified school bus through a corn maze and shot oncoming actors as they stumbled out of crops. 18-year-old Jeremy McSpadden Jr. jumped out and came running at the bus, only to trip and fall before being crushed by the rear passenger wheel. Reports say he died instantly.
According to media release by the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office, initially, no one knew McSpadden had been hurt or that he had even been run over since the terrain was so bumpy. It wasn’t until the actors went to go reset for the next ride that they realized he wasn’t acting.
The Inquisitr noted that Sgt. Crawford Ward said neither alcohol nor the speed of the bus had anything to do with the accident.
The Halloween horrors didn’t end with Idaho, though. Just one day later, another haunted event resulted in death and multiple injuries.
In Mechanical Falls, Maine, a Halloween hayride accident resulted in one death and 22 injuries, according to the Inquisitr. A jeep pulling a trailer missed a sharp turn while driving and hit a tree throwing its passengers off the ride.
According to Boston’s NewsCenter 5, the hayride was suspected to have malfunctioned, something overlooked since hayrides do not require any licensing in the state. The state police also went on record to say alcohol was not a factor in the crash.
Safety protocols for Halloween events weakly protected these actors and customers from suffering during a horror ride; these events should have resulted in reevaluating the way companies entertain customers with Halloween scares.
Despite this, zombie hunting has come to Arizona.
According to its website, Queen Creek, Arizona’s, Schnepf Farms is putting on The Outbreak, a zombie shootout occurring on a moving hayride. At Buckelew Farms in Tucson at the Zombie Paintball Shootout, guests shoot actors from behind a still platform as they run in and out of obstacles. Buckelew Farms is also sponsoring the sale of alcohol at their events.
Let’s count what could go wrong.
One: running around in the dark could cause actors to fall and make it nearly impossible for anyone to see them and respond.
Two: paintball guns in the hands of anyone, especially children, could cause severe harm.
Three: if an actor gets hurt, those gory zombie makeup and costumes they’re wearing make it nearly impossible to identify legitimate danger.
Four: if all the other events swear alcohol wasn’t a contributing factor to the accidents, imagine the horrible outcome of supporting one with.
There are safer options.
At The Slaughterhouse, the Apocalypse event consists of traveling through the upstairs building and shooting zombies in the head with a laser gun, according to CEO of Tucson Screamers, Bobby Sutton.
“Our company, Apocalypse Global, has taken this high end laser tag zombie hunting idea around the country and around the world with great success,” Sutton said. “We have affiliates in 12 different cities and three countries. We tour with ‘The Walking Dead’ fan show [Walker Stalker Con] and provide a live zombie shooting attraction to ‘Walking Dead’ fans around the country.”
Although it’s hard to agree with the company’s sale of alcohol on Halloween night, the laser technology is a far safer option that I personally can vouch for.
Last October, I worked at The Slaughterhouse in the Apocalypse event, and the only injuries I sustained were those I got myself from running around and falling on the ground after my headband went off telling me I’d been hit.
With options like this, zombie paintball shouldn’t be a haunted Halloween event sponsored by any spooky season vender, laser tag is a far safer method if zombie shootouts are really the route companies want to take.
So many things can go wrong when people go all out to look as if they’re dead; it shouldn’t come as a shock when someone finally does shows up that way. Tragedies such Idaho’s and Maine’s need to be a wake up call that Halloween isn’t a video game — it’s still real life with real people who need to be, and certainly can be, protected during the day of the dead.
Follow Ashleigh Horowitz on Twitter.