After girl injured at Wichita carnival, same show opening in Topeka

Evans United Shows was setting up its traveling carnival at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka on Wednesday.
Evans United Shows was setting up its traveling carnival at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka on Wednesday. The Wichita Eagle

Less than a week after a 15-month-old was critically injured when she suffered what Wichita police said was a possible electrical shock at a carnival, the same traveling show is opening in Topeka.

It’s still not clear how the injury occurred, but managers of the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka will conduct a basic “walk-through,” including a check for electrical hazards, said H.R. Cook, regional general manager for SMG. The company oversees Expocentre operations and Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita.

“You want to make sure that the very unfortunate situation (in Wichita) doesn’t happen again,” Cook said Wednesday.

He has not received any calls from potential Topeka-area customers concerned about the Wichita tragedy, he said.

Evans United Shows put on the carnival in the Towne West parking lot where the girl was injured last Friday night. Evans United Shows will be at the Expocentre from Thursday through May 28.

Evans United has held carnivals at the Expocentre for 25 years without any serious incident and has a “very clean record and very good reputation,” Cook said.

Cook said that after he learned of the Wichita injury, he and carnival owner Tom Evans discussed the situation.

“In this particular case (in Wichita), no, we don’t know what it was” that caused the girl to be injured, Cook said.

An update on the girl’s condition wasn’t available Wednesday.

Her family has said that while the girl waited outside a bounce house with her father, she was swinging on a handrail that had a wire in front of the ride; she suddenly was overcome and her father had to pry her hands off the handrail.

Police described it as possibly an electric shock. Westar Energy, which sent a trouble-shooter after the incident, said it tested the carnival fencing or equipment that the girl touched and that it was found to be carrying 290 volts. That is enough to kill someone, experts say.

Cook, the SMG official, said he didn’t know whether Evans United was setting up the same bounce house at the Topeka show.

Officials with the carnival company have not returned messages.

Nor did Cook know whether any Topeka-area governmental agency would be checking the carnival in response to the Wichita incident. But SMG will probably invite firefighters to do a “walk-through,” he said.

Referring to Evans United, Cook said, “I can guarantee you that they’re very concerned” about the Wichita tragedy.

“They’re not a large corporation; they’re a family organization. They’re very concerned regarding safety and customer service,” Cook said.

In recent months, Evans United has held shows in different Texas cities. Cook said he thought the carnival was headed on to Lee’s Summit, Mo., and Des Moines after Topeka.