Last month, we wrote about an accident at a New Jersey amusement park in which five visitors suffered injuries on a water ride. While riding the Gauley at the Mountain Creek amusement park, 11 people became trapped at the mouth of a tunnel, five of whom suffered scrapes and bruises requiring medical attention.
While Mountain Creek and its current owners seem to have a good safety record, that particular ride was left over from a previous amusement park on the same property that went bankrupt after a number of expensive and high profile personal injury lawsuits.
Further investigation into the incident reveals that not only is the 30-year-old Gauley unsafe, but also suggests that the current staff of Mountain Creek is ill prepared to respond to emergencies.
It was recently revealed that the accident occurred when the vinyl liner inside of a tunnel ripped apart. It ended up trapping 11 riders and causing injuries to five of them. Furthermore, the real hero responsible for coordinating the rescue of these trapped riders was not a member of the park’s staff, but rather an off-duty officer from the Bergen County Sherriff’s Department.
Upon observing the trapped riders, the off-duty officer first gave assistance to a 13-year-old boy and then went to alert the lifeguards about the situation. A report issued by the Department of Community Affairs explains that “The guards apparently at first did not comprehend the severity of the situation and did not react.”
One lifeguard finally did jump to the officer’s aid, and together they worked to free the riders trapped under the ripped lining. Meanwhile, it took other staff members approximately 20 minutes to shut off water to the ride. By this time, most victims had already been freed.
The officer’s actions were commendable, and it was incredibly fortunate that he happened to be there that day. However, the report of this incident casts serious doubts on the competency and training of the park’s staff, which should have been primarily responsible for the safety of guests.
Although injuries were minor in this case, things could have been a lot worse.
When customers suffer injuries because of a business’s unsafe property or negligent staff, they may wish to seek appropriate compensation through a premises liability lawsuit.