When people think about potential sources of injury at an amusement park they typically first consider the most aggressively-styled and intimidating rides. Thus, when people think about injury risks at a theme park or amusement park, their mind will typically first consider major rollercoasters with aggressive loops, swoops, corkscrews, and drops. For other people, perhaps the immense height of a “Fire-fall” style ride comes to mind. However, the truth of the matter is that injury can occur on any ride in a theme park.
In a recent accident at a Phoenix-area amusement park, a 12-year-old boy suffered catastrophic injuries after he fell from a log ride attraction at the Castles N’ Coasters amusement park in Phoenix, Arizona. The boy’s injuries reportedly include a cracked skull and was placed in a medically induced coma. The boy suffered these injuries after apparently leaving his seat on the ride, getting caught on the log-style boat, and then being dragged approximately 30 feet by the boat from the top of the flume course. The boy underwent two hours of brain surgery to address his traumatic brain injury (TBI). The family has stated that they don’t know if he will ever be the same again, but in the best case, recovery could take 18 months.
While certain facts about the accident seem clear, there are still a number of questions regarding how the injury occurred. While the park claims that the boy’s actions alone are responsible for his injury, the boy’s family makes different claims.
The Park’s Account of the Log Flume Accident
The park expressed its condolences to the family for the boy’s injury, but firmly stated that the park did not bear responsibility for the accident. The general manager for the park stated in an e-mail:
We have multiple people who witnessed the boy stand up at the last second and try to get out of the boat at the top of the ride. The ride operator at the top of the ride was able to have communication with the boy before the incident and the boy said he was “ok” and to not stop the ride… There was no malfunction on the ride. Unfortunately, if he had followed the safety rules he would be fine.”
According to reports of the event the boy disregarded the instructions of a ride operator after being told to sit down. It is unclear as to why exactly the boy stood again after allegedly stating that he was “okay” but this act caused him to apparently lose his balance or get caught such that he was pulled along by the boat.
Park officials have ruled out any possible malfunction of the ride. They state that the ride was operating as intended. They attribute the cause of the accident to ride safety rules not being followed by the boy. While the flume ride does not have straps or harnesses, riders are instructed to remain seated at all times.
The Family’s Version of the Events Leading up to the Log Flume Fall
The family claims that events transpired rather differently than how the park characterizes the events. The family states that the boy was crying for help and telling the ride operator to stop the ride because the boy said he was “sliding.” Family members state that he was waving his arms in the air to get the attention of a ride operator. “He was sitting down,” says Leal’s grandmother Carroll Stevenson. “Waving his hands. Telling them, ‘I’m sliding!’ And the guy sent him down anyway.”
The child’s grandmother believes that the if the park employee had stopped the ride due to the boy’s cries, the accident would not have happened. The aunt of the boy also claims that the young boy hit his head on every bar on the way down the 30 foot drop.
While the accounts of the family and the park are in opposition, it is likely that more details regarding this accident will emerge in the near future.
Injured at an Amusement Park?
If you or a loved one have suffered catastrophic and life-altering injuries at an amusement park, the experienced attorneys of Reiff & Bily may be able to fight for you. To schedule a confidential, no-obligation legal consultation call the personal injury and amusement park accident attorneys of Reiff & Bily at 800-861-6708 or contact us online today.