Stuntman Hurt by Fall in Knott’s Mock Gunfight
A veteran stuntman was critically injured in a fall during a show at Knott’s Berry Farm in what officials said Sunday was the first serious injury to a performer in the history of the park.
The stuntman, Jay Mead, 29, was hurt Saturday when he fell 25 feet from a structure in a mock gunfight during the 2:30 p.m. performance of the Calico Square stunt show, officials said.
He underwent emergency surgery Saturday at UCI Medical Center in Orange and remained in critical condition in the intensive care unit Sunday, said Bob Ochsner, a Knott’s spokesman. Neither Ochsner nor the hospital would describe his injuries or confirm reports that he had broken his neck.
Mead, a park employee, was an eight-year veteran of stunt shows at Knott’s and had performed the fall “hundreds of times,” Ochsner said.
“It’s a pretty typical stunt show, and this was just a routine fall,” Ochsner said. “Stunt work is dangerous, and any fall is somewhat dangerous, but this was considered routine.”
During the show’s mock gun battle, several of the performers are “shot” and fall from structures to a backstage area out of view of the audience, Ochsner said. The stunt performers are supposed to fall to a safe landing area, but Mead apparently missed that spot and fell to the ground.
“Most likely the accident was not seen by the audience,” Ochsner said. “I’m only speculating, but no one actually sees them land on the ground.”
Ochsner said it was the first serious injury to a Knott’s Berry Farm performer in the “50-year-plus history of stunt shows at the farm.” He said that there have been minor injuries previously, “but nothing serious until this.”
The Calico Square show was suspended Sunday pending the results of an investigation of the incident, Ochsner said.