CHICAGO – A Michigan family filed a lawsuit on Tuesday after their son was critically injured when he fell from the top of a rock wall at Chicago’s Navy Pier despite wearing a harness.
Gideon and Erin Brewer of Grand Rapids, alleged in the complaint filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County that Navy Pier, Spectrum Sports and two workers were negligent in ensuring the safety of their 8-year-old son, George Brewer, WOOD-TV reported.
The family is suing for George’s medical and hospital expenses, among other damages, according to ABC News.
Cellphone video released by the Brewer family showed the boy scaling a climbing wall at the Pier on July 27, according to the television station. After the boy reached the top, he fell 24 feet to the ground after jumping, WLS-TV reported. The family alleges that there was no safety rope to slow the boy’s descent.
The lawsuit alleges that workers failed to properly harness and secure the boy to the climbing wall, according to the television station. The complaint also alleges that George Brewer fell to the concrete pavement without anything on the ground to cushion his fall, WLS reported.
“He got to the top and he said to hit the button up at the top to stop the timer, and then he let go to rappel, which is what you’re supposed to do and he just dropped,” Erin Brewer said at a news conference on Wednesday morning, according to WOOD. “It felt like a nightmare. I kept thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, this is one of those times where I’m having a horrible dream and I’m going to wake up any second.’ And I did not and all I could do, all Gideon could do, we were just screaming for help.”
As a result, the boy suffered “severe injuries” all over his body and has undergone multiple surgeries, according to the complaint.
According to Erin Brewer, her son broke his tibia, pelvis and chin, shattered his femur, had a concussion and sustained damage to his growth plate, ABC News reported.
He was in a wheelchair for months but is now using a walker, according to WOOD.
“We thought he was dead when he fell,” Gideon Brewer told reporters. “His little brothers saw him too, saw the whole thing, and were asking us, ‘Is George dead? Is George dead?’”
The family also alleged that no Navy Pier workers tried to help the boy and that bystanders called 911, the television station reported.
A spokesperson for Navy Pier said they have not seen the lawsuit, ABC News reported.
“It is our standard practice not to comment on litigation,” the spokesperson said.
The Brewers’ attorney, Steve Levin, said his firm received the statements the employees gave that day through a Freedom of Information Act request, WOOD reported. Both said they did not see the child go up the wall or fall, Levin said.
“Hearing your child asking if he’s going to die — I mean, he’s an 8-year-old boy,” Erin Brewer told reporters. “It’s like his innocence was taken from him. This should have been a fun experience and it couldn’t have been any worse.”
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