Mother sues Lake Compounce over death of son

Posted Monday, July 30, 2001 7:00 AM | Contributed by Jeff

The mother of a boy who died last year following an accident on one of Lake Compounce's water slides is sueing the park for $15,000, alleging that the ride's restrictions and precautions were inadequate.

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Monday, July 30, 2001 7:15 AM
I hate to sound like the insensitive prick, but I'm sorry that I don't buy this suit for a second.

At every park you go to (or at least every park that I'VE gone to), the rides precautions are clearly listed on about seven thousand signs during the course of the queue (or approximately twenty-eight thousand if it's a Disney park) that warn of all of the potential dangers that can occur when going on the ride, and there are signs posted conspicuously in the station (where most riders wait an awfully long time with not much to see) explaining proper ride procedures, and in most recently built or updated parks have such warnings on TV screens or over audio systems. Finally, there is the ride operator, who, as every train goes through the station, must mumble the exact same uninteresting schpiel (sp?) about keep hands and arms in the train, not standing up, pulling the harness all the way down, keeping your head all the way back, placing your hands between your legs upon dispatch, sticking your left index finger up your nose at the apex of a loop but not an Immelmann, and thumbing your nose at the on-ride camera but not at fellow riders.

Sorry about that...but seriously, I've never seen a theme park where such precautions were not listed in very obvious places on the ride. I mean, think about it...why would a park want to put such vital information in less than obvious areas? Wouldn't a dangerous ride be a threat to high ridership and therefore to high profits? Why would a park want to put itself in such a position for lawsuits?

Sure, this is only for $15,000, which is penny change for such large corporations, but the principle of the suit is simply ridiculous. Most accidents on coasters have been the result of rider error or interference, or misrepresentation of the rules of the ride. If a ride was operator error or manufacturing fault, you would think a) these kind of things would happen MUCH MORE OFTEN, and b) such a problem would be IMMEDIATELY remedied.

As we enthusiasts know, such things don't happen. So to sue the park because your son or daughter chose not to follow the posted rules for safety, that's a problem that should not be dealt with in court, but should've been dealt with at home by the parents.

Damn it, the Luv Monkey has spoken...and boy, do I feel better! And by the way, I am open for criticism or argument if you feel the need to rant as I have.


NITRO kicks it into high gear...only at Six Flags Great Adventure!

My other car is a rollercoaster...

*** This post was edited by Davie the Luv Monkey on 7/30/2001. ***
Monday, July 30, 2001 7:27 AM
I'm not sure that any of have enough information to make that kind of judgement. If I were the park I'd settle out of court and let this one go away.

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Monday, July 30, 2001 7:50 AM
Davie, you are being an insensitive prick, and the accident didn't happen on a coaster, it was on a waterslide. He was only six years old for god's sake. Imagine if it was your kid who drowned. Did you actually read the article?
Batwing-Bow Down
Monday, July 30, 2001 8:00 AM
I agree with Jeff. I think it would be hard to prove that the kid was definitely checked to make sure he was tall enough, etc. Like the love monkey said, only 15,000 is not a whole lot, it probably would be best for the park to settle and let it go.

"Did you make a copy? Because if you made a copy, we could watch the copy."
Monday, July 30, 2001 8:22 AM
I think some times us coaster people seem to care about coasters more than human beings. Yes it could have been advoided. I remember this event when it happened. The boy could not swim. But A parent should still understand he needs a lifejacket. I think the case should turned on her in a mild form of child negelaence(sp). I believe also that the park have lifejackets in the park they give out. I maybe could understand if the kid ran off from her and went on the slide. But to my knowlegde she was aware where he was. One my question. Explain this sucked under floating dock thing.
Monday, July 30, 2001 8:32 AM
There isn't enough info. to really judge what happened here but I am more inclined to agree with Davie. I have watched parent after parent at amusement parks try to force their kids onto rides that they are obviously not tall enough to ride. I have worked at a water park and had many parents literaly yell at me for not letting their child go down slides that they are not tall enough for. With this in mind I wonder if it was a case of a parent recognizing that the child was not tall enough but went up to the top with the idea that if the ride op doesn't stop us then we can go. Now granted maybe the ride op should have said something but the parents as well need to recognize that the safety signs are their for a reason. Again there isn't enough info. in the article so this is all speculation. It could have been that there was no height restriction whatsoever on the slide. In that case it would be totally the parks fault. I don't know.

Top 5 coasters:
1. The Beast 2. Millenium Force 3. The Incredible Hulk 4. Superman: ROS (SFNE) 5. Alpengeist
Monday, July 30, 2001 8:45 AM
OK, I apologize is my rant went a little off-topic and into the realm of coaster-related accidents. Rereading my post, I can definitely see how that can confuse people.

While I do agree with Jeff that they should settle out of court, it just seems to me that if there was a problem with the ride, a problem that the mother could legitimately sue for, wouldn't it have happened more often? Surely if there was, for example, a mistake in the construction of the ride or a computer miscalculation or something like that, that it would show up more often? Or that the ride's built-in safety system would prevent anything serious? I would think so. That was the point I'm trying to make.

Of course, for a ride like this, the situation does change a bit. Still, was it solely the kid's fault? No one knows for sure. But it seems to me that common sense removes the blame from the park. The only suit I could legitimately see would be to the mother for not having her son have a life jacket on. And if he was too short to get on the ride, I'm fairly sure a ride operator would not have "let it go". So I'm not blaming the kid, I'm just removing blame from the park. If that makes me an insensitive prick, so be it. I'll still stand by that.

But again, I apologize for the confusion. The Luv Monkey has (amendedly) spoken.


NITRO kicks it into high gear...only at Six Flags Great Adventure!

My other car is a rollercoaster... *** This post was edited by Davie the Luv Monkey on 7/30/2001. ***
Monday, July 30, 2001 9:40 AM
Ok I never heard of this.

Current Favorite Coasters:
1)Raging Bull 2)Millennium Force 3)Medusa (SFMW) 4)Vertical Velocity (SFGAm) 5)Incredible Hulk, The
Monday, July 30, 2001 9:56 AM
Not saying this is the case, but i have seen parents try to get children on rides they are not tall enough to ride, not check their childrens heights, etc. When i take my neices, it is me that is responsible for their well being (making sure they are the minimum height, making sure their lap bars are secure, riding with them and also holding them in). I do not depend on a teenager working at the park to do this.
Monday, July 30, 2001 11:22 AM
I think I remember this accident. Wasn't the father implicated in some way?
Monday, July 30, 2001 1:09 PM
First, I wonder about the $15,000 suit amount. Second, as I recall, the state authority found fault with the park, the ride operator, the kid, and the parent, spreading the blame around quite nicely. I think there is more to this suit than meets the eye.....

I think this one will be settled quickly.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.
Monday, July 30, 2001 5:26 PM
I also would agree with dave. And for the people who say just settle its small money, that just encourages more lawsuits with the hope they will get a little money to just go away. The parent is at fault and shouldnt be compensated for a decision she made.
Monday, July 30, 2001 7:59 PM
First of all, when I worked at SFDL, I was a lifeguard, they had guards posted at the bottom of the slides, for just those type of problems.
Do they have lifeguards stationed at the bottom of the slides? I thought this was a common practice for parks. I would have to put, more of the blame on the park. Even if he could swim, he may have gotten to the bottom of the slide, and been swept under by the rushing water, when he tried to come up, the raft was over top him, or maybe he became disoriented underwater. Still there should have been a lifeguard, watching over the water. I didn't know $15,000 was the going rate for a unlawful death suit. If it were my kid, they wouldhave to rename the park, because I would be the new owner, after the lawsuit. This is just my opinion.
Monday, July 30, 2001 8:16 PM
coasters are better than people.
Monday, July 30, 2001 8:29 PM
Why would you sue for any dollar amount? What amount is comparable to the worth of a child? The article alludes to the MOTHER'S truama and says nothing about the little boy. My issue is in general, as I agree there isn't enough info for this specific situation. But it seems people who sue over this kind of stuff (usually preventable) always say they want to send a message but there is always a large dollar amount ($15,000 isn't alot for a large park but is over half the average americans annual income.) If you truly were concerned with safety and a message why not raise public awareness by speaking out, not suing and settling for an undisclosed amount. Just my opinion.
Tuesday, July 31, 2001 6:40 AM
Just another way of getting lots of money.
Always The #1 Minnesota Viking Fan!
Tuesday, July 31, 2001 8:35 AM
Angel said: If you truly were concerned with safety and a message why not raise public awareness by speaking out, not suing and settling for an undisclosed amount. Just my opinion.

Honestly, a lawsuit gets just as much attention and is less taxing on the plantiff. Furthermore, it would be extremely hard for an average person to sustain a drawn out lawsuit with a major corporation. They have deep pockets and could file motion after motion until finally they wear that average person out. Better to settle early.

"Nobody writes about the planes that land." Steve Salerno Washington Times 7-10-01
Tuesday, July 31, 2001 1:38 PM
I agree with 2Hostyl in the sense that a lawsuit does get attention, but only until settled. And I also agree that no average person could out do a big corporation in the courts either, I am saying that talking to anyone who would listen would be a better alternative if safety and a message were the concern. A park gets problems corrected by, tragedies, bad word of mouth, poor attendence and ultimately financial strain. If a attraction gets too much heat in the press they either close or revamp it. No amount of money can replace one of my kids, and putting a $15,000 price tag on them is ridiculous. Making sure that that big corporation was doing everything it could to prevent this from happening again would become my goal in life. All the time and energy I would have devoted to that kid would be now on this park. Money and a lawsuit doesn't solve anything.

Personal Responsibilty, Awareness, and Prevention does. Again just my opinion. *** This post was edited by Angel on 7/31/2001. ***
Thursday, April 17, 2003 11:14 PM
I am wondering why the mother is suing and not the father? Because i know for a fact that the mother was not even raising her six-year old son, she lived in New York. While the father was raising him in Conn. She lived with her new boyfriend and his mother. As a matter of fact she also has a daughter that lives with the father she is not raising either one of them to this day. I also think that the six-year old boy, that's not even his real father that the mother left him with. If you ask me I think the father should be suing the park not the mother. And I also agree that putting a 15,000 price tag on them is ridiculous. I'm pretty sure that she loved her son no matter if she was raising him or not, but I believe that since she was living in Brooklyn ,NY and not raising them I think the father should be suing after all he was there. Her motives for suing I think are shady.

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