A woman said she experienced the ‘worst pain of her life’ when a Christmas trip to a tramponine park left her with a fractured spine.
Lucy Jones, 19, was left unable to move after visiting Flip Out Chester with friends Robyn, Sophie and Kira, in January last year.
The dental nurse of Northop, Flintshire, North Wales, claims she was injured jumping from the four-metre ‘Tower Jump’ into a foam pit.
She now plans to sue the park for negligence and/or breach of statutory duty.
Lucy said: ‘We decided to have a bit of a night out after Christmas. We saw the trampoline park advertised on Facebook and decided it would be a fun thing for us to do.
‘After putting the special socks on, designed to increase grip on the trampolines, and watching the health and safety video, we entered the trampoline area.’
Lucy said it was then that she and Kira spotted the 13ft tower – and decided to challenge themselves.
She added: ‘My friend Kira went first. She was really up for it, while I felt quite nervous.
‘I suffer with anxiety, so I actually saw the jump as a bit of a challenge for myself, to prove to myself that I could do it.
‘I was feeling a bit scared, but I was also completely determined to do it for me.’
But when Lucy landed in the foam pit after her leap, she alleges she could not feel her legs and was screaming in agony.
Lucy said: ‘My friends rushed over to help me. I landed in a seating position, as we’d been told to do.
‘But, when I landed, I felt the worst pain I have ever been through in my whole life.
‘For a while, I couldn’t breathe or feel anything.’
She said a member of the Flip Out staff then rushed over and asked her what was wrong.
Lucy added: ‘I said I couldn’t feel my legs and he called another member of staff to see me.
‘All the while I was screaming in agony, but they said I would need to get out of the foam pit, something I knew I couldn’t do on my own.
‘Then, without any warning, two members of staff grabbed me by the arms and dragged me out of the pit on to a mat.
‘My friends were saying, “She can’t move”, and were trying to get them off me, but once out of the pit they then told me I would need to walk over to the first aid area.
‘I was slumped on the mat, in complete agony. But, because no one seemed to be taking me seriously, I really questioned if I was being overdramatic by screaming the place down.’
Desperate for an ambulance to be called, Lucy alleges staff refused to dial 999, saying her injuries were ‘just bruising’.
Instead, her friend Sophie phoned an ambulance, according to Lucy,
She said: ‘I was begging to go to hospital. I felt like my left leg was paralysed, as I just couldn’t move it.’
Eventually, an hour and a half after the jump, she was taken by ambulance to the Countess of Chester Hospital.
An x-ray revealed a fractured vertebra in her spine – a broken back – and Lucy was told she would need to be transferred to the spinal service at The Walton Centre in Liverpool.
She said: ‘Mum and I burst into tears. I was absolutely terrified. The only thing I could think was, “Will I ever walk again?”.’
The next morning, Lucy had a five-hour operation to fit rods into her back, enabling it to heal.
Having rehabilitation every day in hospital, after five days, Lucy was discharged.
She said: ‘That was probably the hardest time for me. I was trying to be positive, but I was basically housebound for four months.
‘I became depressed and started thinking about how unfair it was what had happened to me.
‘It shouldn’t have happened, I shouldn’t have broken my back.’
As a result, the day Lucy returned from hospital, she contacted law firm Linder Myers and is about to start legal proceedings against Flip Out Chester.
The claim form, which starts the action, is set to issued later this month.
Lucy’s lawyer Mark Howarth, of firm Linder Myers, said: ‘When I was instructed by Lucy, I looked into to Flip Out Chester and it was clear Lucy’s accident was one of a series of a serious incidents which indicates there may be significant issues with the design of the landing areas at Flip Out.’
In light of Lucy’s imminent legal action, a spokesperson for Flip Out UK said they have replaced the Tower Jump with a new battle beam attraction, adding: ‘Millions of people have visited Flip Out trampoline and adventure parks across the UK and we are proud of our safety record.
‘Safety is our number one priority and we strive to ensure that everyone who visits can enjoy all of the activities in a safe environment.
‘We have been advised by our legal team that it is inappropriate to comment about this particular case at this time.’
Cheshire West and Chester Council has launched an investigation into the park.
Councillor Karen Shore, cabinet member for environment, said: ‘A detailed investigation is still ongoing to establish the facts of the incidents at Flip Out Chester that resulted in a number of people suffering injuries.
‘We expect to have completed the evidence gathering stage of the investigation early this year.
‘The investigation is being carried out under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and will consider if any offences have been committed.’
Lucy is now fundraising to travel to Tanzania to volunteer as a dental nurse.