A 10-year-old boy fell 20 feet to the ground from a zip line attraction in Lakeland, Florida, resulting in serious injuries to the boy's body and head, as well as a lawsuit against the attraction park.
According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the boy was injured Sept. 1 when he slipped out of his harness while riding the "Sky Rider" zip line at Lakeland Square Mall's Urban Air Adventure Park. The lawsuit says he had not been properly strapped in before taking off from the platform and fell just moments after he had taken off.
“It killed me to watch it,” Kim Barnes, the child's mother, told NBC affiliate WFLA. “His life is not the same anymore because of this. It’s affected him mentally and emotionally and physically.”
The boy was flown by medical helicopter to the hospital, according to the lawsuit, and has since been released.
Morgan & Morgan, the law firm representing the family, filed a lawsuit on Monday.
“At the employee level, they obviously could’ve done more but at the organizational level, there should’ve been more measures in place to prevent something like this from happening,” said attorney Steven Capriati.
The Department of Agriculture’s investigative report informed that the incident had been the result of operator error: inspectors found the leg straps of the child’s harness were not buckled.
Communications director Karol Molinares says state inspectors found no deficiencies in the equipment and Urban Air did not have a history of device deficiencies.
The department will be taking enforcement action and fining Urban Air, according to Molinares.
Urban Air released the following statement to WFLA's investigative team:
“Urban Air is fully committed to the uncompromising safety and well-being of our guests and employees. As a family-owned and operated company, safety is at the heart of everything we do. We take matters of this nature very seriously and can assure that appropriate measures have been taken. All staff members have been retrained on all attractions and the employees in question are no longer with us. We are thankful to hear that the child is back in school and we will continue to keep him and his family in our thoughts and prayers through his full recovery.”