Delaware's famous Punkin Chunkin competition, in which teams fire pumpkins impressive distances from an assortment of contraptions, was hit by tragedy Sunday when a pumpkin cannon blew up, critically injuring a 39-year-old woman. The "Pumpkin Reaper" air cannon was getting ready to launch a pumpkin when the trapdoor and other parts of the cannon were blown into the air before hitting the woman and a 56-year-old man whose injuries were not as serious, WMDT reports. The event, first held in 1986, was returning this year after a two-year hiatus that followed a 2013 incident in which a volunteer was injured in an ATV accident and filed a lawsuit.
Both the injured people were in an area reserved for team members and the media. A spectator tells the AP that he was about 25 yards away from the cannon when it exploded, blowing a piece the size of a car door off the launcher. "It arcs down on this woman who is running away as it hits her," he says. Organizers asked the crowd to pray for the woman and then announced the event was over. The News Journal reports that by the time the accident happened at around 2:40pm, at least 10 cannons had fired pumpkins more than 3,000 feet. (Read more Delaware stories.)