CHICAGO — An 8-year-old boy was not properly harnessed to a safety rope when he fell 24 feet off a climbing wall at Chicago's Navy Pier this summer, suffering severe injuries, his parents allege in a new lawsuit.
Erin and Gideon Brewer took their three children to Navy Pier on July 27 while visiting the city from Grand Rapids, Michigan.
When their son George went up the climbing wall, he made it to the top before plunging 24 feet to the ground, according to the family. The fall was caught on camera by his mother, who said she was unaware he was not properly harnessed.
"It felt like a nightmare," his mother, Erin Brewer, said during a press briefing Wednesday.
There was no cushion at the bottom of the climbing wall when George slammed into the concrete, his family said. As a result, he suffered "severe injuries" all over his body and has undergone multiple surgeries, according to the complaint.
"We thought he was dead when he fell," his father, Gideon Brewer, told reporters. "His little brothers saw him too, saw the whole thing, and were asking us, 'Is George dead? Is George dead?'"
As a result of the fall, George broke his tibia, pelvis and chin, shattered his femur, had a concussion and sustained damage to his growth plate, Erin Brewer said.
"Hearing your child asking if he's going to die. I mean, he's an 8-year-old boy," Erin Brewer said. "It's like his innocence was taken from him."
George has needed four surgeries so far, and has another surgery scheduled for the end of January, his parents said. Due to the severity of his injuries, he had to start the school year in a wheelchair, his mother said.
"It's infuriating because this was 100% preventable. This should never have happened ever," Erin Brewer said.
A spokesperson for Navy Pier said they have not seen the lawsuit.
"It is our standard practice not to comment on litigation," the spokesperson said.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in the Circuit Court of Cook County on George's behalf, alleges negligence and willful and wanton conduct by the defendants, including the two operators of the climb wall. The family is suing for George's medical and hospital expenses, among other damages.
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