Haunted house attractions are a natural draw for humans. The fight-or-flight response we feel when a very convincing zombie approaches us gives our bodies a natural high. According to science journalist Jeff Wise in his book Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger, the physical reaction of an increased heart rate and rapid breathing is “the biological equivalent of opening the throttle.”
Usually, haunted houses are a relatively safe space for a scare. While accidents do happen, such as injuries when people run into walls out of fright or fall in the dark, visitors know that, despite a chainsaw roaring next to their ears, it’s all make-believe.
So when Tawnya Greenfield was approached by a person she believed to be in character at Nashville Nightmare, a haunted house, she played along.
According to Nashville, Tenn., station WZTV, a person who appeared to be an employee of the haunted house approached Greenfield’s group after they had already visited the attraction and were playing carnival-type games.
The alleged employee, in character, asked Greenfield whether another person in her group was teasing her, and when she playfully answered “yes,” handed Greenfield what she believed was a prop knife, saying, “Well here, stab him.”
According to the Tennessean, Greenfield then stabbed the victim, James “Jay” Yochim, in the arm. She even jokingly said, “Ha-ha, gotcha!”
It wasn’t until Greenfield pulled the knife back that the group realized it was a real weapon. Blood started to pour from Yochim’s forearm. “His arm was gushing blood like something out of a horror scene,” Greenfield said. She added that the suspected employee ran away.
“Keep in mind, we’d been chased by chainsaws, holding other weapons, all kinds of stuff all night, and it was all fake,” Yochim told Tennessean. “So she stabs at me with it, and everything got really black.”
Yochim, who was transported to the ER at Tristar Skyline Medical Center in Madison, Tenn., required nine stitches. Luckily, the knife missed any major arteries, bones, or tendons in his arm. The group of friends provided a statement to police at the hospital, and no charges have been filed. Police are investigating but reportedly had not yet contacted Nashville Nightmare.
In a statement provided by Nashville Nightmare to Yahoo Lifestyle, the company said it believes an “employee was involved in some way” and that “he has been placed on leave” until it “can determine his involvement.”
The full statement provided to Yahoo Lifestyle from Nashville Nightmare Organizers is below:
“The safety and security of our patrons is our top priority, and, for the past 8 years, we have hosted Nashville Nightmare without any security incidents or major injuries.
“We are still confirming the facts, but I can tell you that on Friday night, a male patron was injured by a fellow patron outside the Nashville Nightmare house. Our medical staff responded immediately, and the injured party was transported to the hospital where we understand that he was treated and released.
“We have robust safety and security protocols in place, including metal detectors and onsite medical and security staffs. As we have continued to review the information, we believe that an employee was involved in some way, and he has been placed on leave until we can determine his involvement. We are going over all of our safety protocols with all of our staff again, as the safety and security of all of our patrons is always our main concern. We have not been contacted by the police, but we will cooperate fully with any official investigation.
“We have enjoyed a good reputation in this community, and our goal is always to host a festive, safe and professionally run Halloween event.”
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