GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Rapids couple is suing Navy Pier in Chicago after their 8-year-old son was seriously injured when jumping from a climbing wall without a safety harness.
Erin and Gideon Brewer’s attorneys filed their lawsuit in Cook County, Illinois, on Tuesday, alleging Navy Pier, Spectrum Sports and two workers were negligent in ensuring their son George’s safety.
Video released by the family shows George scaling a climbing wall at the pier on July 27. While he is wearing a harness, the family said Navy Pier workers didn’t attach a safety rope to that harness.
At the end of the video, George can be seen jumping from the wall — but there was no safety rope to slow him. The family says George fell 24 feet to the concrete below, which had no safety netting or cushioning.
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George suffered a serious leg injury that has already required four surgeries, the family said, and a fifth is expected in January. He was in a wheelchair for months, though he has now progressed to walking with the aid of a walker.
“We trusted Navy Pier to operate the climbing wall safely and care about our kids. It is a major tourist attraction and we thought it was reputable,” Gideon Brewer said in a statement released by his attorneys. “Part of the reason we are filing this lawsuit is to warn other parents who take their children to Navy Pier to beware. Safety and concern for children are clearly not their priorities.”
George’s mother Erin Brewer said the family is “traumatized” by what happened.
“I will never forget the horror of my son hitting the ground so hard with no protection. Within seconds, a beautiful family day turned into our worst nightmare,” she said in a statement.
The Brewers’ attorney Steve Levin said there was “no excuse” for George not being properly harnessed.
“Whether it was carelessness, a lack of training, supervision, proper safety equipment or just not caring about the children climbing the wall, Navy Pier failed George and his family miserably every step of the way,” Levin said. “If Navy Pier cannot operate the climbing wall and other attractions safely, they need to shut them down.”
The family also alleged no Navy Pier workers tried to help George after the fall and that bystanders called 911. They also say no one from Navy Pier ever contacted them afterward.
In a short statement released to News 8 Wednesday morning, Navy Pier said it had not seen the suit.
“It is our standard practice not to comment on litigation,” the statement continued.