LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – 8 On Your Side Investigates has exclusively obtained 911 calls detailing the moments of panic that followed a child falling approximately 15 to 20 feet from a zip line attraction in Lakeland.
The incident happened on Sept. 1 at Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park. A 10-year-old boy was on the “Sky Rider” zip line when he slipped out of his harness and fell to the ground.
After the fall, two people at the park called 911. 8 On Your Side Investigative Reporter Mahsa Saeidi exclusively obtained those calls on Tuesday.
“It looks like he was on the ride and he fell off of the ‘Sky Rider,'” an employee told dispatchers in one of the calls. “I’m with him right now. He’s feeling pain in his lower back.”
In the background of the 911 call, yelling and crying can be heard. The 911 caller tells the child, “don’t move, don’t move.”
Shortly after being told not to move, the child expresses his concerns that he’s paralyzed and tells the employee he can’t move.
“You’re wiggling so you’re not paralyzed because you’re wiggling, OK?” the 911 caller tells him. “Stay calm, take a breath for me.”
When asked how far the child fell, the man responds “it would have to be about 12 to 15 feet.” He then tells the dispatcher there’s no blood and the child is completely alert.
“Do not move him unless he is in danger and do not splint any injuries. Reassure him that help is on the way,” the dispatcher told the caller. “From now on, don’t let him have anything to eat or drink. It might make him sick or cause further problems.”
The 10-year-old was eventually rushed to the hospital. He has since been released but his mom, Kim Barnes, tells 8 On Your Side he’s still struggling.
“His life is not the same anymore because of this,” said Barnes. “It’s affected him mentally, and emotionally and physically.”
According to an investigative report through the Department of Agriculture, the incident was the result of operator error. Inspectors found the leg straps of the child’s harness were not buckled.
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,” attorney Steven Capriati added.
Karol Molinares, the communications director for the Department of Agriculture, 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 8 On Your Side Investigates:
“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.”
The facility obtained a permit in July of 2018, according to state officials. The September incident was the accident at this location.