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Car show honors toddler electrocuted at Wichita carnival last spring

The family of Pressley Zeplin Bartonek is holding a car show on Saturday in memory of the 15-month-old girl who died after grabbing an electrified fence at a carnival last May in Wichita. A Facebook page on the event, dubbed Calling All Cars, offers more details.
The family of Pressley Zeplin Bartonek is holding a car show on Saturday in memory of the 15-month-old girl who died after grabbing an electrified fence at a carnival last May in Wichita. A Facebook page on the event, dubbed Calling All Cars, offers more details.

Little Pressley Zeplin Bartonek lived for just 15 months before she died after grabbing an electrically charged fence at a carnival in west Wichita in May. But her loved ones hope to keep her memory alive.

They’re holding a benefit car show called Calling All Cars on Saturday afternoon. The event stretches from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Textron Aviation Employees Club Fitness Center, 6711 W. 31st South.

“We focused on something positive for her,” said Mary Ellen Babcock, Pressley’s “G-ma,” or grandmother. “We’re wanting to raise awareness that these carnivals are not safe for kids.

“We also want people to know Pressley, and what she was like.”

Pressley, who was from Conway Springs, was electrocuted on May 12 while with her family at the carnival.

She was too small to go on most of the rides. Instead, she walked around with her family, “jumping around and being a playful kid as usual,” a police investigative report stated.

The family eventually made its way to the bouncy house, where Pressley grabbed the guard rail and was shocked and gravely injured. She died five days later at a Wichita hospital.

A police supervisor investigating the incident after Pressley was taken to the hospital grabbed the same guard rail she had “and it shocked him with electricity,” the report said.

Wichita police have said no criminal charges will be filed in the incident. On Saturday, Babcock said a civil suit against Evans United Shows, the owner of the carnival, hasn’t been ruled out.

The pain and grief from that awful night at the carnival are still fresh, Babcock said. But Saturday is a time to smile and remember Pressley.

“We wanted it to be something fun for everybody,” she said of the show they hope will become an annual event.

The free show will feature food vendors, raffles and music. The Red Cross Blood Bus will be on hand to accept blood donations.

Those in attendance can donate money, Babcock said. The donations will be divided among three organizations: Wesley Children’s Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House and the Midwest Transplant Network.

The staff members at Ronald McDonald House “were fantastic,” Babcock said. “I can’t tell you how much they helped the family.”

Pressley was an organ donor, she said, and that work has taken on added importance to the family.

Stan Finger: 316-268-6437, @StanFinger

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