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The sandwich guy's scar

He makes Dagwood sandwiches now, but then he ran a Ferris wheel.

Published April 28, 2007

Dan Weaver, a food vendor at the Hernando County Fair, was impaled by an iron bar from a ferris wheel in 1978 and has one heck of a scar to show for it.
[Times photo: Stephen J. Codddington]

BROOKSVILLE - Dan Weaver was telling stories outside his food trailer called The Olde Smokehouse the other day at the Hernando County Fair. He's 55. Sometimes he lives in Gibsonton and sometimes in Ohio, but mainly he stays in the camper he pulls with his van. He talked for a good long while.

He talked about his signature Amish Dagwood sandwich - home-cooked bacon, ham and hard salami and three different kinds of cheese on a six-inch hoagie roll. He talked about how it weighs almost a pound and how one time a guy ate two whole Dagwoods and a part of a third before he had to quit.

He talked about how he started running carnival rides in 1968. About how he started buying some rides in '70. About how he sold some rides in '76.

About how in '77 he got the trailer and started making the Dagwood.

He talked about how life on the road can be a drag but how he can't give it up because he likes to see different people and do different things.

And then, after all that, he talked about what happened to him at a little fair in Austintown, Ohio, in the summer of '78.

- - -

Everybody who works at the fair has a story, they say, and every scar tells one. Dan Weaver starts his story like this:

"I should be dead."

Weaver was working an old cable-run Ferris wheel on Aug. 25, 1978, at 11:05 p.m., across the street from a Catholic church. About 12 kids were on the ride.

The wheel was coming around when he saw a loose angle iron, just dangling there, and he had just enough time, he said, to try to knock it back up so it would clear the metal base of the ride. Then, he said, he would shut off the ride and get it fixed.

The angle iron was about a quarter-inch thick and about 8 feet long and was painted-white steel.

It went in just to the right of his belly button.

Came out his back.

Just missed his spine.

It pinned him to the metal base like a butterfly on a board.

Weaver doesn't really know how the kids on the wheel reacted. He just looked over at some of the men working a nearby ride.

"I said, 'Hey boys, time to get me outta here,'" he said.

The paramedics used a circular saw to cut the metal in front of him and in back of him. They left the rest of the angle iron inside because he would have died any other way. The paramedics held it in place.

Weaver saw his insides. They looked like "red sausages that ain't been cooked."

He remembers the ride in the ambulance. "The road was full of potholes." He does not remember most of the five days after that.

"You might say I'm a walking miracle," he said the other day at the fairgrounds. "This is my little niche in the world."

Which, you know, is not a bad niche.

- - -

He still has pain. He walks like someone who stays stiff. He sleeps on magnets and also puts them in his shoes to help his blood flow better.

And if someone sits and visits with him long enough, and listens, and waits, Dan Weaver might say why, and lift up his shirt to show the scar.

Michael Kruse can be reached at or 352 848-1434.


About the series

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Encounters is dedicated to small but meaningful stories. Sometimes they will play out far from the tumult of the daily news; sometimes they may be part of the news. To comment or suggest an idea for a story, contact editor Mike Wilson at or (727)892-2924.


[Last modified April 27, 2007, 22:21:32]

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