Three zip line incidents in late June serve as a reminder for park operators to take steps that will keep staff vigilant and on procedure for the remainder of the summer season.
On June 25, two children and a man collided on a zip line at The Edge, an adventure park in Castle Rock, Colo., according to a report from 9News, the NBC affiliate in Denver. Injuries to the man and one of the children were significant enough that they were considered to be in critical condition and were taken to a nearby hospital.
The Edge sent 9News a statement that read, “While we did have a minor incident at the park this afternoon, the facts are still being gathered and will be released to the proper authorities if necessary.”
While no other details were available, the incident reminds that communication between the launch and arrival platforms is essential, and that both the line and the landing zone in the arrival area must be clear. It also demonstrates the importance of communicating with the media in a thoughtful way—the statement’s characterization of the incident as minor seems out of step with the available details, and the park missed an opportunity to express care and concern for the guests.
On June 27, a six-year-old boy fell from a zip line at Fundidora Park in Monterrey, Mexico, after a gear loop—which was apparently used as the attachment point for his trolley lanyard—on his harness broke. Fortunately, the child did not incur any injury; he fell from about 40 feet into a lake, from which he was rescued by park staff and family members. The incident serves as a reminder to check that every guest’s gear is working properly and that all attachment points are secure and sound.
On June 28, a six-year-old girl at the Urban Air Adventure Park in Newnan, Ga., got tangled in the ropes of a zip line-like “Sky Rider” ride, and the ropes wrapped around her neck, according to the report the girl’s father gave to a local TV station. The girl said she couldn’t breathe, so her dad climbed onto a counter, then some netting, and climbed up about 12 feet, from where he was able to twist her around to unwrap the ropes. He said that there were no staff nearby to help.
After her rescue, the child complained of neck pain. Paramedics were called to check for injury, after which the father said the family left the park. He reported the child was okay.
According to the report on WSB-TV in Atlanta, Ga., a spokesperson for the Urban Air Adventure Park provided a statement that read: “The uncompromising safety of our guests and employees is our highest priority. And we are so grateful that she was able to stay in the park and play.”
Again, this incident highlights two things: the importance of maintaining sufficient staff to operate a facility safely, and the value of responding in an appropriate fashion after an incident. The park’s statement seemed out of sync with the reported details of the incident, failing to address the incident in the most effective way.
Parks should have a procedure for managing communications with the press—and also know what to say, as well as what not to say. For more information on effective communication in the aftermath of an incident, see “What Would You Say?” (Adventure Park Insider, Spring, 2020).