EFFINGHAM COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — Many people are sharing messages of support and hope for the child of an Altamont family after tragedy shook the Effingham County Fair over the weekend.
Five-year-old Harper Finn was seriously hurt on Sunday during a harness horse race. The starting gate on the back of the pace car failed to fold in and extended into the grandstand; Harper was hit as the car drove past. Officials said there were people with medical training there who immediately jumped in to help.
Out of respect for the Finn family, Effingham County Fair officials canceled all harness horse racing this week. In his 38 years as Board President, Phillip Hartke said he’s never experienced anything like this.
“Every fair, we strive the best we can for the safety of the folks coming here and we think we do the best job that we possibly can,” Hartke said. “We’re very sad. We’re praying for the family and praying for this little girl.”
The community is also showing support by organizing a fundraiser for the Finn family. The Illinois Harness Horse Association started a GoFundMe page that has far surpassed the $10,000 goal. Effingham County Sheriff Paul Kuhns said situations like this bring everyone together.
“It’s such a tragedy and we feel it down to almost every person, because we’re such a tight-knit community,” Kuhns said.
Kuhns explained that the Finn family is known in the community, and everyone is praying for Harper’s recovery.
“I know some of that family. My officers know some of that family,” Kuhns said. “They’re good people and they’re also heavily involved in the horse racing.”
Police are still investigating how the incident happened and have no details on Harper’s condition at this time.