Universal guest sues theme park after suffering paralysis on water slide

in Theme Parks, Universal Orlando

Volcano Bay

Credit: Universal Orlando

A tourist from New York City is suing Universal Orlando Resort’s Volcano Bay after he says he was paralyzed and almost drowned at the water theme park and is now suing for more than $15,000 in damages.

The lawsuit was filed by James Bowen and his wife in Orange Circuit Court  after Bowen says he took on Punga Racers water slide back in July (a water attraction at Volcano Bay) and slammed his head in a shallow wading pool. Bowen reported feeling “numbness” after the incident.

Punga Racers
Credit: ITM

According to Bowen’s lawsuit, the man experienced Punga Racers toward the end of his visit to Volcano Bay on July 11. Before going down the slide, Bowen laid on his stomach on a mat headfirst at the attraction. Bowen and his three daughters were in the water attraction’s other three lanes as they had all been prepared to race one another. However, according to the lawsuit, as the ride ended and Bowen reached the wading pool, his face hit a wall of water and his head snapped back “violently.”

The suit states that Bowen couldn’t move and could only float limply, face down in a few feet of water. His wife, who was waiting for Bowen to come down the slide, ran to her husband and flipped him over so he could breathe. According to the suit, if Bowen’s daughter and wife hadn’t run over to him, he could have drowned that day.

Universal employees held Bowen up and called paramedics at the scene and he later was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center. There he was treated for an irregular heartbeat. Upon doing a CAT scan, the suit says it was revealed that Bowen had suffered a severe spinal cord compression, which could have almost completely paralyzed the man.

Punga Racers
Credit: Universal Orlando

Bowen underwent surgery and surgeons had to remove part of his vertebrae along his C3 to C7 vertebrae and installed screws and rods, which resulted in a partial fusion of the section of his spinal column, according to the suit.

Bowen woke up from the surgery in a quadriplegic state. Bowen’s family went home to New York following the procedure while Bowen recovered in Orlando.

The feeling has since returned to his arms and legs. On August 8, Bowen left Orlando with the help of steady physical therapy. According to the suit, Bowen can walk a short distance or stand, using crutches. However, Bowen has not been able to return to his job where he works as a director of worldwide services at Squarespace.

According to Bowen’s Miami attorney, David Buckner, he revealed that Universal added warnings and instituted a 150-pound weight limit on Punga Racers. According to the lawsuit, at the time of Bowen’s journey down the slide, he weighted approximately 215 pounds.

Source: Orlando Sentinel 

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