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Water Slide Accident Leaves Park Guest Paralyzed

Amusement parks provide multiple days worth of entertainment for all ages. Families save up vacation time and money to spend a few days or more at some of the country’s biggest amusement parks, including Universal Orlando and Disneyworld. These parks have expanded beyond just one area and have multiple parks, including waterparks. Unfortunately for visitors, some of the rides and experiences are not as safe as the theme parks make them out to be.  

Father Paralyzed After Orlando Water Slide Ride

Universal Orlando Resort has the water theme park Volcano Bay. Volcano bay has extreme water slides, a winding river, and wave pool. The centerpiece of the park is the 200-foot-tall artificial volcano, Krakatau. One of the main attractions is the Punga Racers, which “send single riders on a body slide down four lanes through underwater sea caves.”

A man in New York has filed a lawsuit against Universal’s Volcano Bay after he claims he suffered a spinal cord injury on the ride which left him paralyzed. James Bowen was visiting the park with his daughters who wanted to race on the 4 Punga Racers slides. Bowen alleges the employee instructed him to lie on the mat on his stomach, sliding down the ride headfirst. 

After sliding down the ride, at the end when splashing into the pool, Bowen’s face and head hit the water, causing his head to snap back. According to the lawsuit, the impact caused a compression injury to Bowen’s spine. After the injury, the victim was paralyzed, laying face down in the water. His family and an employee turned him over and waited for first-responders to arrive. 

Bowen was taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with spinal cord compression along the C3 to C7 vertebrae. In a later surgery, doctors removed part of his vertebrae and used rods and screws to fuse a section of his spinal column. After intensive therapy and rehab, Bowen regained some sensitivity and motion in his limbs. As a result of the injuries, Bowen can only walk or stand with crutches and for limited periods of time. 

More Than 100 Other Victims of the Water Slide

According to news reports, at least 115 other riders were injured on the water slide between 2017 and 2019. Some riders also suffered whiplash when hitting the pool. Other injuries included concussions, nose bleeds, and scrapes. 

Universal claims they take every injury seriously and prioritize the safety of their guests and team members above all else. However, according to the lawsuit, when Universal was testing the new waterslide, a rider suffered a similar injury to Bowen but the park continued to open the ride anyway. On the first day of the slide’s opening, another rider reported hurting her back when she hit the wall of water at the catch pool. 

Waterpark Injury Attorneys

No one expects to get injured at a water park but some rides put visitors at risk of injury. If you or a family member was injured at a waterpark, a personal injury claim may help you recover damages. Call Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation.

About the Author

Charles GilmanCharles Gilman
Charles Gilman

As managing partner and co-founder of Gilman & Bedigian, it is my mission to help our clients recover and get their lives back on track. I strongly believe that every person who is injured by a wrongful act deserves compensation, and I will do my utmost to bring recompense to those who need and deserve it.


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