Avon teenager, Chelsea Zeolla, had to spend her winter watching Netflix after she was injured while jumping at a trampoline park in New Britain right before Thanksgiving.
The 13-year-old, a former gymnast, was with friends at the Flight Fit n Fun in New Britain in November 2017 enjoying the giant trampolines. While jumping, she attempted to do a move she’s done countless times before.
“I was going to do a flip and in the middle of the flip I didn’t commit fully and like, I ended up diving into the trampoline- I guess you could say, so I put my arm out to stop myself, but then it went a little wrong,” Zeolla explained.
In an instant, Zeolla’s arm was broken and she still has a pair of pins inside her arm that have to be removed during surgery. The athletic teen said she missed basketball season over the winter and is currently benched from lacrosse.
Zeolla and at least 388 others were injured at the Flight trampoline park in 2017, according to accident statistics provided to the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters by the owner of the trampoline park.
Zeolla’s mother, Michelle, said she feels bad knowing how active her daughter is. The mother said both of her daughters want their own trampoline, but she won’t allow it. She remembers being reluctant to let her daughter go to the trampoline park with her friends, but she didn’t want to be the only mother to say “no.”
“Nobody is alleging that we didn’t know what we were getting into, just poor judgment on my part,” said Michelle Zeolla.
Children and adults keep getting hurt on trampolines, according to a national medical study and data collected by NBC Connecticut.
NBC Connecticut obtained hundreds of 911 calls asking for medical assistance because someone was injured at a trampoline park in Connecticut, New York or New Jersey.
“I have someone jumping on the trampoline, they came down wrong and popped their knee out of place,” a caller to New Britain dispatch stated.
Another caller told the emergency dispatcher that an injured jumper had, “the inside of her left ankle bone is showing.”
Some of the calls were more frantic.
“A girl attempted to do a backflip here and landed on her neck,” one caller told dispatch.
The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters identified injuries at three dozen trampoline parks in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.
Many of the calls were for ankle, arms or leg injuries and most of those injured were children, sometimes severely.
Surveillance video obtained by an attorney representing several people who were injured at Sky Zones in New Jersey shows what can happen when taking a tumble at a trampoline park. Three different videos purportedly show a 5-year-old breaking his ankle, a 12-year-old severely injuring her ankle when she fell on it the wrong way and a 40-year-old woman breaking her ankle while jumping, according to the personal injury attorney, David Chazen.
Chazen is representing each of those showed in the videos in lawsuits against the company and is fighting the validity of the required waivers signed before his clients got injured.
In an email, Sky Zone wrote:
“At Sky Zone, the safety of our guests is our top priority. We are committed to on-going evaluations to promote guest safety. As with any physical activity or sport, there are inherent risks. We take several measures to reduce these risks and educate our guests about safety in our parks. We invest in best-in-class equipment and post important safety rules and guidelines throughout our parks. Additionally, we station court monitors at all trampoline attractions to help enforce those rules and monitor guest activity.”
But parents may not realize how big risk trampolines can be. Working with our sister station in New York City, the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters analyzed trampoline park injuries across the tristate region and through public records, we identified more than 1,000 trampoline-related injuries since 2013.
“We were starting to see more and more trampoline park-related injuries,” Dr. Steven Rogers at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford told NBC Connecticut.
Rogers and his colleagues conducted a 2016 study on trampoline injuries and found an alarming rise in injuries of this kind. They estimated that emergency room visits for trampoline park injuries increased more than 1,000 percent from 581 in 2010 to 6,932 in 2014.
The owner of New Britain’s Flight trampoline park said he wants to know about injuries so he can try to prevent them from happening.
“Of course we don’t want to see any injury. We want to find out why that injury happened and again we want to try to prevent the injury from happening,” owner Ralph Park said.
Park and his business partners, who own ten trampoline parks across the country and Canada, bought Flight Fit n Fun in 2015.
“One of the main things is making sure you know your limits,” Park said.
He said at his Cliffwood, New Jersey, trampoline park, injuries have actually gone down since he and his partners took over two years ago.
“The biggest thing is listening and staying within the confines of the rules and regulations,” Park added.
Rules at Flight Trampoline Park require participants watch safety videos and staff makes sure there are visible guidelines posted around the center. After extensive training, floor and safety monitors are stationed in jumping areas.
Park said injury reporting is a standard operating procedure and that he makes unannounced visits for inspections.
“The majority of major accidents are from double-bouncing. Sure, it’s exciting to be on the trampoline with your child, but you have to understand the dangers of that,” Park added.
Families should know the trampoline park industry is largely unregulated. NBC Connecticut could not find any laws or rules for parks in Connecticut. IAT, the International Association of Trampoline Parks, is not a regulatory body and they can only make suggestions or offer advice.
“Right now, there really is no standards, and that’s why it’s really important to be a member of IATP. They’re a wealth of information for you,” explained Park.
Rogers, the author of the trampoline safety study, suggests parents need to make sure trampolines are safe.
“If your children are going to use the trampoline, which we recommend they don’t, then you need to make sure as their parent, the trampoline is safe,” Rogers said.
Zoella said she’d go back to a trampoline park.
”I’d still probably go. I don’t have to do a front flip, I can just bounce around and still hang out,” she said.