Action filed in boy’s fall from waterslide
Family seeks $2.5 million in opening-day incident at Dublin park
$2.5 million lawsuit was filed Tuesday against Dublin and the city’s new water park by parents who say they watched in horror on a hot day in May as their young son flew off the 48-foot-tall “Emerald Plunge” waterslide and injured his head, back, arms and legs.
Susanna Jones and Ron Hayduk of Pacifica filed the suit in Alameda County Superior Court charging that defects in the slide at the Wave Waterpark led to their son, Jamie, now 11, being ejected onto a concrete surface May 21.
“It was hell. I was worried he wouldn’t get up,” Jones said of the moment she saw her son fall out of the slide. “This experience has been nothing short of a nightmare for the entire family. Jamie is healing along with myself and (his father). He is physically, emotionally and psychologically healing.”
Named in the suit were the city of Dublin, the state of California, waterslide manufacturer WhiteWater West Industries, contractor C. Overaa & Co. and subcontractors.
Jamie suffered abrasions throughout his body and hit his head multiple times on the concrete after falling, Jones said. Since the incident, he has had to see a therapist to deal with recurring nightmares of falling out of the slide, Jones added.
The incident occurred on the opening day of the $43 million water park owned and operated by the city of Dublin. The Emerald Plunge slide has been shut down since then.
“If the slide was tested properly, this horrendous incident wouldn’t have happened,” said the family’s attorney, Waukeen McCoy of the McCoy Law Firm in San Francisco. “If the slide has since been tested and found safe, why hasn’t it reopened? We believe the slide was not properly tested and should never have opened.”
The family is seeking punitive damages of $2.5 million and a re- quirement that all issues with the slide be corrected before it reopens, McCoy added.
The lawsuit alleges that the slide was defective, the water pressure was too powerful and the “run-out” lane at the bottom had no padding or protection. There was nothing to cushion the bare concrete on which Jaimie fell, according to the suit.
A report by a Cal/OSHA inspector who checked out the Emerald Plunge on April 4 found loose bolts on the footings and the tower staircase, and cracks in the channel structure underneath the slide’s first landing. Other issues with the slide cited by Cal/ OSHA inspectors included sharp edges on railings and lack of signage in danger areas, and that the landing pool did not pass requirements that the slide be at least 42 inches above the surface. Inspectors concluded that the slide was not constructed in a way to prevent overturning by riders.
The slide passed a final inspection by Cal/OSHA, and inspectors concludA
“We believe the slide was not properly tested and should never have opened.” Waukeen McCoy, attorney for family of boy injured in waterslide fall
ed that “no safety hazards were observed” on May 26 — a day before the water park opened.
The slide was built by WhiteWater West, a global company that started operaLawyers tions in 1980 as a water park operator and has since grown to build attractions for hotels, resorts and amusement parks. McCoy said that the family was in settlement talks with an attorney from WhiteWater West but that negotiations had “reached an impasse.”
representing the city met with the family in an attempt to “reach an amicable settlement,” but the family lawyer “refused to provide any information about the family’s injuries that would be necessary to resolve the claim,” the city of Dublin said in a statement to The Chronicle.
McCoy said the city’s claims were false and that Jamie’s medical records and a letter from his therapist were handed over to the city’s lawyers.
The city declined to comment further.
“We came here on a beautiful day ... for excitement and joy,” said Hayduk, “and it ended in something that should never have happened.”
Parents Susanna Jones and Ron Hayduk, with attorney Waukeen McCoy (right), are suing parties including Dublin and the maker of the Emerald Plunge slide.
Parents Susanna Jones and Ron Hayduk stand near a video frame showing their son, Jamie, being ejected from the Emerald Plunge water slide on the opening day of the Wave Waterpark in Dublin in May.
A photo provided by the family’s attorney shows injuries suffered by the now 11-year-old boy.