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Grand Rapids family sues Navy Pier after 8-year-old boy injured in fall

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – A Grand Rapids couple is suing Chicago’s Navy Pier after their 8-year-old son was seriously injured while jumping off a climbing wall without a seat belt.

On Tuesday, attorneys for Erin and Gideon Brewer filed a lawsuit in Cook County, Illinois, alleging Navy Pier, Spectrum Sports and two workers were negligent in their son George’s safety.

Video A picture posted by the family shows George climbing a climbing wall at the pier on July 27. While he is wearing a harness, the family said Navy Pier workers did not attach a safety rope to that harness. At the end of the video, George can be seen jumping off the wall, but there was no safety rope to stop him. The family says George fell 24 feet onto the concrete below, which had no safety net or cushioning.

George suffered a serious leg injury that has already required a fourth operation, the family said, with a fifth expected in January. He had been in a wheelchair for months, but now he has moved on to walking with the help of a walker.

“We trust Navy Pier to operate the climbing wall safely and take care of our children. It’s a major tourist attraction and we thought it was an authority,” 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 be careful. The safety and care of children is clearly not their priority.”

George’s mother, Erin Brewer, said the family was “traumatized” by what happened.

“I will never forget the horror of my son falling so hard to the ground without protection. In a matter of seconds, a wonderful family day turned into our worst nightmare,” she said in a statement.

Brewers attorney Steve Levine said there was “no excuse” for George not being properly restrained.

“Whether it was carelessness, a lack of training, supervision, proper safety equipment, or simply not paying attention to children climbing the wall, Navy Pier failed George and his family miserably at every turn,” Levin said. “If Navy Pier can’t safely operate the climbing wall and other attractions, they should close them.”

The family also claimed Navy Pier staff did not try to help George after the fall and that bystanders called 911. They also say no one from Navy Pier contacted them afterward.

In a brief statement released to News 8 Wednesday morning, Navy Pier said it had not seen the suit.

“It is our usual practice not to comment on legal proceedings,” the statement said.


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