Injured ‘Punkin Chunkin’ Videographer Laments Special’s Cancellation

Suzanne Dakessian, the woman seriously injured while working on Science Channel’s coverage of the annual Punkin Chunkin event, voiced her disappointment in Science canceling the special, about the air cannons and catapults that hoist pumpkins across Delaware farmland, in light of her injury.

Dakessian, who managed a camera crew for production company Sharp Entertainment, was critically injured when an air cannon blew apart Nov. 6 and shot a metal trapdoor into the air. She’d been wearing a hard hat, which may have saved her life, and had been standing in an area that, according to CNN, was restricted to media, safety officials and Punkin Chunkin participants.

A 56-year-old man was also treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Dakessian’s medical status, and even her name, had been kept private until she spoke with CNN from Christiana Hospital in Stanton, Delaware. Dakessian told CNN it is “heartbreaking” that Science Channel canceled the special, which was to air Nov. 26. "I was really looking forward to seeing what came from all that hard work I put in," she said. "The days of The Chunk, I was working 15-hour days, and to not see the product after all that blood, sweat and tears that went into that show, I'm really bummed out about it.”

CNN reported that Dakessian is blind in one eye, cannot move one hand and has another surgery scheduled to restore a piece of her skull that was removed to relieve pressure.

Science Channel said, “We are sending our hopes and prayers for a full recovery to the injured woman, her family and loved ones.”

Science Channel did not comment on its future partnership with the event.

The event had previously aired on Discovery, before Science Channel picked it up in 2008.

Punkin Chunkin is a tradition in southern Delaware, and a source of pride in the region, which is a mix of rural and beach communities. Tailgaters and campers alike come out for what is known locally as “The Chunk,” which was held Nov. 4-6. Some of the pumpkins are shot close to 4,000 feet through the air by a variety of high-tech contraptions.

The future of Punkin Chunkin is to be determined. The event had been canceled in 2014 and 2015, in part due to increasing insurance costs after an injury involving a volunteer riding an ATV on site. The overseeing World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association could not be reached for comment.

Sharp Entertainment said in a statement: "Our thoughts are with Suzanne, her family and friends as she continues to recover from this accident." Sharp shows include 90-Day Fiance on TLC, Bad Ink on A&E and Secret Lives of Stepford Wives on Investigation Discovery.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.