Woman critically injured at Delaware Punkin Chunkin

One woman is in critical condition following an explosion of an air cannon during the Punkin Chunkin competition in Bridgeville, Delaware.

After a two-year hiatus, World Championship Punkin Chunkin competition returned to southern Delaware. But what had been a weekend of cheering flying pumpkins turned somber Sunday afternoon after an air cannon malfunctioned. 

According to Delaware State Police, an air cannon dubbed “Pumpkin Reaper” exploded after the trap door where pumpkins are loaded separated from the cannon during launch. Police say the door and other parts were blown away from the cannon and hit a 39-year-old woman in the face and neck. 

Police initially reported that the woman had died, but they corrected that report to say that she was not dead, but in critical condition. She was flown by emergency helicopter to Christiana Hospital in New Castle County. 

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A 56-year-old man also was injured in the explosion. He was treated on the scene by paramedics and taken to nearby Nanticoke Memorial Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Police are still investigating the incident with the help of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. 

Punkin Chunkin had been on hiatus in part due to concerns from the landowner who hosted the event over insurance coverage costs for potential injuries during the competition. 

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