Ac­tion filed in boy’s fall from wa­ter­slide

Fam­ily seeks $2.5 mil­lion in open­ing-day in­ci­dent at Dublin park

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - BAY AREA - By Sarah Ra­vani

$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.”

Michael Ma­cor / The Chron­i­cle

Par­ents Su­sanna Jones and Ron Hayduk, with at­tor­ney Wau­keen McCoy (right), are su­ing par­ties in­clud­ing Dublin and the maker of the Emer­ald Plunge slide.

Michael Ma­cor / The Chron­i­cle

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.

Wau­keen McCoy

A photo pro­vided by the fam­ily’s at­tor­ney shows in­juries suf­fered by the now 11-year-old boy.

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