I am writing this letter to inform you of a negligent
incident that occurred at CJ Barrymore's in Clinton Township, Michigan, inform
you of the hazardous mitigation of such incident and assure the CJ Barrymore's
cooperation has taken the appropriate steps necessary to prevent such
negligence from occurring in the future.
On June 16, 2012 my six year old son, my partner and I visited the above
listed CJ Barrymore's to participate in entertainment activities. We purchased
a $55 ticket package and my son rode once on the Rookie Kart ride prior to
getting in line for the Euro Bungy attraction. While in line, we observed two
staff members attending to the ride, Xamian and Sal. It was apparent that Xamian
was inadequately prepared to operate the ride when we observed him incorrectly
fasten the harness of the rider prior to my son by cross-buckling the leg
portions of the harness. This gross error was corrected by Sal prior to the
ride starting but not at the request of Xamian. Throughout the operation of the
ride, Sal continued to verbally instruct Xamian how to operate the ride
reminding him to raise and lower each child as they jumped.
Upon my son's turn, my partner and I were not comfortable
with Xamian fastening the harness system so my partner began securing him to it
(it should be noted my partner is a State of Michigan certified Firefighter,
Operations level certified in High Angle Rope Rescue and a licensed Paramedic).
We were then informed by Sal that a staff member must secure the harness. My
partner informed Sal of his concern and observations regarding Xamian's
inadequate training and instructed Sal to closely monitor him.
When the ride was to begin, Sal instructed the children to
begin jumping. While all of the other children began jumping and being raised
in the air, my child was not being raised in the air. Sal instructed Xamian to
raise my child. Xamian manipulated the controller with some effort and my son
began ascending in the harness above the trampoline. When my son was about six
feet above the ground, Sal walked over and instructed Xamian to lower my child
down. Sal grabbed the controller and attempted to lower my child without
success and he continued to ascend to the maximum height of the ride.
At this point it we became concerned that my son was stuck
at the top of the ride though no one informed us of the situation. We
approached Sal and inquired if he was stuck to which he replied my son was not,
but then elaborated that he would be down shortly and the button had become
stuck on the controller (which he indicated was the cause for the delay in my
son being raised into the air in the first place). Multiple people in white
shirts and one man wearing a pinstriped blue outfit all surrounded the control
panel of the ride however no one had made contact with us to inform us of the
situation. By this point my son was very scared, complaining that the harness
was hurting him and crying.
After several minutes, one staff member in a red shirt
repositioned the trampoline under my son and he stepped on top of the trampoline
under my son to catch him. My partner also stepped upon the trampoline to
assist and asked the man "how fast is he going to come down" to which
the man replied "I don't know." My son then began showing the first
signs of suspension trauma when he complained of nausea and started vomiting
repeatedly. A large crowd had formed and their humiliating reaction to his
vomiting went un-corrected by any of the park managers or staff for some time until
my partner demand that the crowd be dispersed to maintain my son's dignity.
The situation became even more serious when my son became
pale and lethargic in addition to the vomiting, all which are indications of
impending loss of consciousness. Again, not one of the employees demonstrated
any awareness of what suspension
trauma was when my partner expressed his concern nor how to recognize it. My partner
remained alone on the trampoline to "catch" my son, having no idea
how fast he would descend. Prior to my son losing consciousness, he descended enough
that my partner was able to grab his leg and pull him down against the force of
the elastic bands attached to the harness ,which did not descend fully, and he
began unbuckling the harness with the help of some of the staff.
When a manager finally made contact with us after this
incident, it was not to offer explanation and the steps being taken to prevent
a similar occurrence nor was it to obtain our contact information or any other
reasonable and responsible course of action, rather it was to give us a $25
gift card for us to "enjoy" as we continued our day at CJ Barrymore's.
Needless to say we were caught off guard and disgusted. We then inquired to him
what the cause of the malfunction was and what steps would be taken to prevent
future incidents. His reply was that the machine malfunctioned and they (CJ
Barrymore's) have no control to fix it and it was up to the manufacturer to
correct the problem from occurring in the future. Other staff members present during this inquiry denied a
manual override to the "dead man" failsafe which they informed us was
built into the machine to prevent riders from falling to the ground in case of
a failure stating "that is what you want to happen."
On June 18, 2012 I re-contacted this CJ Barrymore's location
and asked to speak with a manager to follow up regarding what their findings
were and what steps were being taken to prevent any future incidents like this.
I spoke with Mr. David DalPizzo who stated he had no knowledge that such an
incident had occurred, that no incident report was made and no maintenance
report could be found. Mr. DalPizzo attempted to reassure me that CJ
Barrymore's had a reputation for saftey, however, in the absence of any
evidence that this incident was being taken seriously, coupled with the
negligence observed, his words were empty rhetoric at best. Again CJ
Barrymore's management failed when Mr. DalPizzo did not offer take my
information or to follow up with me.
We are appalled that this incident occurred in the first
place and especially in the manner it was handled. Why was an inadequately
trained employee negligently allowed to operate a ride that launches people up
to 25' in the air while suspended in a life safety harness? Why did staff force the
"stuck" button down instead of shutting down the ride to repair the
malfunction? Why wasn't 911 contacted at any point during this emergency? Why
didn't any of the staff have knowledge that being suspended in a harness is an
emergency which could result in suspension trauma and death? If CJ Barrymore's
has no control over the design and operation of these machines, who is
performing routine maintenance on them? How often is it performed and what
records are maintained? Why didn't your management immediately order ancillary
staff members to disburse the crowd instead of us having to demand it? Why
didn't anyone from management make contact with us to take our information,
give us their information and follow up?
Enclosed is the gift card that was given to us by your
managerial staff. Due to the unaddressed safety failures in staff training,
management and equipment, we will not be returning to CJ Barrymore's. It is my
hope that this letter will reach the proper authority to immediately implement
the necessary changes to protect your future guests from the hazards that
currently exist at CJ Barrymore's.