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Maidstone teenager who fractured back in four places in zip-wire accident fails in bid to sue council

A former student has failed in her bid to sue a council after she fractured her back in four places while riding a zip-wire in a children’s play area.

The girl, who was 17 at the time of the incident, had been playing in Whatman Park, Maidstone, when her friend gave her “quite a firm push” on the zip-wire.

As she came to the end of the line her seat was thrown upwards, she lost her grip on the pole and fell to the ground.

The claimant fell from a zip line, similar to this one, in Whatman Park, Maidstone. Pic: Bill Nicholls
The claimant fell from a zip line, similar to this one, in Whatman Park, Maidstone. Pic: Bill Nicholls

Her back was broken in four places but she fortunately made a full recovery.

She claimed that the sequence of events was neglect on the part of Maidstone Borough Council.

It was suggested the council failed to assess the ride and the risk that teenagers would use it and push each other along it.

The claimant also felt the stop mechanism was not adequate and there wasn’t sufficient warning that she may not come to a safe stop if she was travelling too quickly.

Whatman Park, Maidstone. Picture Matthew Walker
Whatman Park, Maidstone. Picture Matthew Walker

She also claimed the council showed negligence because they failed to secure her to the seat to prevent her from falling off on the day of the event on May 31, 2014.

However, Clyde and Co, defending the council, argued that footage filmed by the claimant’s friend suggested she was pushed rather than “self-propelled”.

Footage recorded by the claimant's friend on a mobile phone of the seconds immediately before the accident was available, but for reasons which were not entirely clear, it was modified shortly after the accident.

Experts in the case agreed the inspection regime carried out by the council and insurer was reasonable and the stop mechanism was sufficient.

There was also no reasonable requirement for Maidstone council to warn the claimant in relation to her use of the zip-wire.

The claim against the council was thrown out in its entirety.

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