EFFINGHAM, Ill. (WCIA) — A spectator was hospitalized after an accident at the Effingham County Fair horse races on Sunday.
Update at 2:05 p.m. on 7/31/23
The Effingham County Fair announced via social media that, out of respect for the Finn family, all further harness races scheduled for this week have been canceled.
Organizers also asked that people continue to keep the family in their prayers and allow them time to heal.
Update at 1 p.m. on 7/31/23
Officials with the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office said the victim in Sunday’s accident is five-year-old Harper Finn of Altamont. Finn was taken from the fairgrounds by ambulance to HSHS St. Anthony Memorial Hospital but was later airlifted to a children’s hospital in St. Louis.
Her condition is unknown at this time and the investigation into the accident is ongoing.
Update at 9:40 p.m.
Fair officials said it’s a tragedy. According to those officials, the spectator was a young girl. She was throwing something away near the center of the grandstand as one of the races began.
In harness horse racing, a pace car is used to lead the horses, with extended arms that fold inward as it approaches the grandstand. But officials with the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office said that one arm failed to close and extended into the grandstand, hitting the girl.
Effingham County Fair organizers said they are working closely with the Sheriff Office as they investigate the issue.
The sheriff has not released any details on the condition of the girl.
Horse races scheduled for the remainder of the day were cancelled.
The Effingham County Fair organizers posted an update to their Facebook page Sunday afternoon.
“At this time, we send our deepest thoughts and prayers to a spectator and her family after an accident occurred at our horse races this afternoon,” Fair organizers wrote in the post. “Here at the Effingham County Fair, we are working closely with local law enforcement and emergency personnel. This is not taken lightly. Processes and procedures will be reviewed once the investigation is complete.”
The Effingham County Sheriff’s Office has taken over the investigation. When asked for comment, the Sheriff’s Office said they had no information at this time.
While all of the races for the rest of the day are postponed, all other fair events for the day will continue, according to the County Fair Facebook page.
This story will be updated.