TV Producer Recovering After Punkin Chunkin Incident


Photo of Suzanne Dakessian by Mark Kauslarich
Photo of Suzanne Dakessian by Mark Kauslarich

The woman injured at Punkin Chunkin is making a slow recovery.  The 39-year-old New York television producer nearly died at the Wheatley Farm in Bridgeville where she was chronicling the 2016 World Championship Punkin Chunkin for the Science Channel.

According to CNN, Suzanne Dakessian was critically injured when an air cannon blew apart while firing a pumpkin. A steel access panel the size of a car door flew through the air and struck her in the head and face.  A second person, a 56-year-old man, was also injured, although not as severely. Both were standing in a restricted area near the firing line that was only open to the media, safety officials and team personnel.  The explosion was the worst accident in the history of the contest, which dates back to 1986.

Dakessian was flown to Christiana Hospital where she underwent emergency surgery to remove part of her skull due to brain swelling. She was released on Friday afternoon and moved to a rehabilitation facility in New Jersey.  It will be a year before doctors can assess the long-term effects of her injury. For now, Dakessian is blind in one eye, cannot move one of her hands, and will require another surgery to restore the bone that was removed from her skull.

The TV special she was at Punkin Chunkin to produce was scrapped as a result of the accident.


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Randi has been called the most recognized voice in Washington DC, having been the voice of the Metrorail system since winning the honor in 2006 over 1,258 competitors across the country. Since then she has been busy narrating educational videos for The University of Maryland, NOAA, voicing announcements on the SmartBus systems in California and Virginia, and being the voice of the National Cancer Institute's "Did You Know?" video series. Randi also records commercials that are heard around the country.