Corn maze nightmare 2011: Who is really at fault?
A terrified couple got so turned around in a corn maze earlier this week, that they placed a tearful phone call to 911 asking police officers to help rescue them and their 3-week-old baby.
"I'm still stuck at Connors Farms. I don't see anybody. I'm really scared. It's really dark and we've got a 3-week-old," said the distraught mother in audio of the phone call released by the Danvers Police Department in Massachusetts. "I thought this was supposed to be fun, instead it has turned into a nightmare."
The family was eventually rescued by a K-9 unit.
The story was picked up by news outlets around the world and has gone viral on the Internet.
The jokes, inevitably, have come fast and furious.
(One favorite, from a commentator on our site: "It reminds me [sic] the time I got stuck on an escalator for over 2 hours.")
But Gerald Nielsen, who runs The Big Horse Corn Mazein Temecula, Calif., isn't laughing. "What happened to that couple is a maze operator's worst nightmare," he said in a phone interview with The Times.
We asked him to tell us what corn maze walkers can do to get through a corn maze without calling 911, but he suggested the situation might never have happened in a truly well-run maze.
He explained that his company has a three-part strategy to keep people from getting stuck in the corn maze after dark.
1. "We have an 11-acre maze, which is pretty large, and we have a tower midway through the maze that gives us oversight of the maze, so we can see if people are still in there."
2. "We have 10 stations set up throughout our maze, and these are numbered with big flagpoles that go above the corn. We put corn cops there — so when you go through the maze, you'll see 10 corn cops. And they scour the maze after we close to make sure no one is left behind."
3. "When people come through in the late afternoon, we have them sign in, and if one of the group is wearing a red hat, we'll note that so we know who we're looking for if we don’t see them come out."
We wondered if GPS was available in the Big Horse Corn Maze.
"From an industry standpoint, we are still a couple of years away from that," he said. "We're looking at it, but the people who come to our corn maze are still pretty low-tech."
Image: The 11-acre Big Horse Corn Maze in Temecula, Calif. Credit: Couretsy of Big Horse Feed.