Two former directors of a trampoline park where 11 individuals sustained spinal fractures could face imprisonment after pleading guilty to health and safety violations.
Flip Out Chester, the trampoline park in question, witnessed a surge in injuries, with “daily injuries” reported among visitors. In one alarming instance, three individuals fractured their spines within a single day. The injuries stemmed from jumps from a 13-foot-high tower into a foam-filled pit, touted by the park’s management as the world’s largest apparatus of its kind at the time.
David Shuttleworth and Matthew Melling, both 33, admitted to health and safety offences during a hearing at Chester Crown Court last month. They now face the possibility of two-year prison sentences. Shuttleworth, a resident of Barlaston, Staffordshire, and Melling, from Spinningfields, Manchester, acknowledged their failure to protect visitors from potential risks. These charges stem from an investigation into 270 documented accidents that occurred over a seven-week period between December 2016 and February 2017.
Liza Jones, a 26-year-old from Wrexham, North Wales, fractured her spine after jumping into the foam pit at the 40,000 square foot facility. She subsequently initiated legal action, describing her experience as “the most excruciating pain I’ve ever endured.“
“I’m relieved they’ve faced legal consequences because I could have been left paralysed. Trampoline park operators must learn from this incident and ensure they have proper health and safety measures in place,” Jones told Mail Online.
George Magraw, then 21 and from Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, also fractured his spine while jumping from the same tower structure at Flip Out. He was informed that he would require several months to recover. Speaking at the time, George’s brother Phil told Cheshire Live: “Either the foam pit lacked sufficient foam or it was too old to provide a soft landing.“
“He landed on his backside, shattering a vertebra in his lower back. An X-ray revealed the disk had practically disintegrated. George is in severe pain, and they’ve advised that he’ll need months of recovery following surgery, or there could be complications.“
Ambulance crews were called to the park once a week on average during its first four months of operation. The severity of injuries eventually escalated to the point where medical personnel from the nearby Countess of Chester Hospital requested a meeting with park management following a surge in A&E admissions.
Lorraine Burnett, Director of Operations at The Countess of Chester NHS Foundation Trust, told the Wrexham Leader in March 2017: “We’ve observed an increase in patients arriving at our accident and emergency department with injuries sustained from trampoline activities in recent weeks.“
“Our clinicians have met with local trampoline facilities to establish a connection and share information regarding the types of injuries we’re encountering. We extend our gratitude to our emergency department and orthopaedic specialists for dedicating time from their already demanding schedules to support this endeavour.“