Pair in pumpkin launch incident still hospitalized

Pair in pumpkin launch incident still hospitalized

HILLSBORO, Ore. - A 9-year-old boy who stars with his family in a cable TV series and another man were listed in serious condition Sunday following a bizarre pumpkin launching incident a day earlier at the Roloff farm north of Hillsboro.

The boy, Jacob Roloff, and the man, 58-year-old Mike Dentjn, were both receiving treatment at Legacy Emanuel Hospital. The boy underwent surgery to remove a dime-size piece of skull that was pushed into his brain as a result of the accident.

Matt Roloff, Jacob's father, said Saturday that the pair were using a catapult-like device called a trebuchet to launch pumpkins in the air when the incident occurred about 5:30 p.m. at the family farm located near the intersection of Grossen Drive and Helvetia Road.

They were launching the last pumpkin of the day. 

 "(They) were cocking this trebuchet back and the trigger released at the wrong moment and the arm came up and kind of clocked Jacob," the father said. "He'll be fine, but he got hit pretty good. Mike got hit by the big counterweight. It looked worse than it was. I think they're both going to be OK."

The counterweight, which is made of concrete, weighed an estimated 2,000 pounds. It pinned Dentjn to the trebuchet frame but bystanders freed him. Both the boy and the man suffered cuts on their heads, necks and legs.

The father said his son looked more scared than anything while Dentjn, his business partner, was worse off.

"Mike looked like he was beat up pretty good because that block had hit him a couple of times," the father said, "but there were no broken bones and he is going to be fine."

The Roloff family, which is made up of little and average-sized people, has gained much media attention as the stars of the television series "Little People, Big World," which documents their lives.

The Roloff's farm was closed Sunday not because of the accident but because they ran out of pumpkins to sell.

Even though neighbors expressed safety concerns, KATU reporters checked with Washington County Permit inspector John Wheeler, who said "all building and structures that require permits have permits." Wheeler said that as far as he was aware, the Roloff farm has never been told to cease operations.