“The Darkness” Haunted Attraction Sued for Wrongful Death

I live only 110 miles from The Darkness and I created a post last month about it being one of the top haunts I’ve ever attended. Safety is always TOP priority when and even before you enter the doors. Larry Kirchner is a top-notch guy and definitely one of the leaders in the industry. I realize that legal matters are always an issue when owning a Haunted Attraction and even when you own a home haunt. If you get that one person who trips over an extension cord or gets bumped by an actor-they might just get pissed and want to sue you. This present matter is a bit more serious but I know for a fact that The Darkness has all safety information displayed for everyone to see. (This is an actual photo I took of the 10′  disclaimer sign outside the building this October). Here’s the video I made after I got back.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNijbuAWL3I

Larry Kirchner is the revolutionary leader behind HauntWorld Magazine, The Haunted House Association, The Darkness, Lemp Brewery, CreepyWorld, Halloween Productions Inc., and more website links than I can keep up with…how does he do it all? He has always opened his doors to experienced actors as well as the new zombie’s who wanted their first taste of blood. He is an innovator in this industry.

Here is the actual article from the St.Louis Post:

ST. LOUIS • Artificial fog and sickly scents pumped into a St. Louis haunted house attraction led to the death of an asthmatic teenager from Belleville, according to claims in a wrongful death suit filed this week.

Brittney Holmes, 15, visited The Darkness, in Soulard, on Halloween 2009 and died on Nov. 12, 2010, after spending a year in a vegetative state, said her father’s attorney, Samuel Wendt.

Brittney’s father, Durand Tyler of Anchorage, Alaska, filed the suit Tuesday in St. Louis Circuit Court against Halloween Productions Inc., which operated the attraction.

Brittney’s mother, Vanessa Neal of Belleville, already had filed a personal injury lawsuit in St. Louis in April. Tyler had known nothing of that suit until after his daughter’s death, and the cases may be consolidated, said Wendt, who practices in Kansas City.

Larry Kirchner, president of Halloween Productions, would not comment Wednesday. His attorney could not be reached.

Kirchner also is president of the Haunted House Association, a trade organization. Its website says, “Haunted houses and attractions are EXTREMELY safe due to tough safety and fire codes they must all now live by.” It continues, “The industry as a whole takes safety seriously and works together to solve common problems.”

Brittney had suffered from asthma since age 4 and was allergic to tree nuts, grass, dust, mildew and peanuts, according to documents in the personal injury suit file. The haunted house had posted several warning signs that people with respiratory problems should not go inside, those records show.

Tyler said Wednesday that his daughter suffered breathing problems in the car on the way home from the visit, and that by the time she reached a hospital, her brain had been deprived of oxygen for at least seven minutes.

His daughter’s medical bills were at least $1 million, and the suit was filed to financially protect his and Neal’s families, he said. “It’s just bad that she’s gone, whether it was from natural causes, we don’t know, but everything right now is stemming from being inside the haunted house,” he said.

VALERIE SCHREMP HAHN vhahn@post-dispatch.com > 314-621-5804 www.STLtoday.com | (80) Comments | Posted: Thursday, December 9, 2010 7:15 am

I contacted Larry on Facebook and he replied:

“The girl did NOT have an asthma attack at The Darkness, they already admit that, she had an asthma attack in Illinois. They are trying to say that because of the fog it caused a delayed reaction. Well a blood test was taken on the girl and she is NOT allergic to the fog. So that rules that out. They are also saying that we had no warning signs… well guess what? We had warnings on the tickets, ticket menu, on the website, 10 foot by 10 foot signs on the next to the door, and three more hanging from the ceiling in the que line. We did NOTHING WRONG and it’s an outrage they would blame us for a girl who had asthma and had an asthma attack in ILLINOIS!”-Larry Kirchner
  Simple ways to see what Larry’s up to:


So Haunters, make sure you have your attraction insurance, have a business attorney look over your forms, signs, and disclaimers, and keep up with safety classes at trade shows. Take every precaution to cover your ass and expect anything, but don’t be paranoid about customers out to get you. Most people are respectable and compliant with safety and rules-so get out there and design something! Stay safe Scarelings…