The proprietors of a trampoline park in the UK are facing potential imprisonment following an unsettling series of incidents where 11 individuals suffered back injuries and many others faced frequent harm at the establishment.
Visitors to the Flip Out Chester trampoline park endured disturbing injuries during their visits. Former directors David Shuttleworth and Matthew Melling, both 33 years old, recently pleaded guilty to health and safety violations after a comprehensive investigation into the park’s operations during a seven-week period between December 2016 and February 2017. A total of 270 known accidents were recorded during this time frame.
Multiple severe injuries occurred, particularly when visitors engaged in the Tower Jump, which involved leaping from a 13-foot-high platform into a foam-filled pit. However, the pit failed to provide a safe and soft landing for the visitors.
The accidents were alarming, with three individuals fracturing their spines on a single day in 2017. Recounting the incidents, one victim described the excruciating pain experienced, while another recalled a sickening ‘crunch’ sound upon landing. The Flip Out Chester venue placed significant strain on local emergency services, with ambulance crews attending on a weekly basis and the nearby Countess of Chester Hospital voicing concerns over the growing influx of injuries from the trampoline park, leading to increased pressure on its A&E department.
After an investigation by Cheshire West and Chester Council’s public protection team, both former directors admitted the offence of failing to prevent visitors’ exposure to risk when they appeared in court at Chester Crown Court on October 9. The guilty plea could potentially result in a sentence of up to two years in prison and substantial fines for the accused.
Former director Melling had previously touted the numerous positive reviews the park received during its initial months of operation. However, the local authorities condemned the trampoline park for its blatant disregard for safety regulations, emphasizing the serious nature of the injuries, including 11 fractured spines, suffered by both adults and children.
In response to the situation, a representative for Flip Out, which operates 30 centers in the UK, stated that the incidents were related to a specific piece of equipment, which was promptly closed. The park claimed significant improvements in their systems and procedures following the incidents.
Councillor Christine Warner, the local authority’s cabinet member for homes, expressed a commitment to holding businesses accountable for the safety of residents and visitors in the area. She highlighted the Flip Out Chester case as a significant example of a business showing a disregard for safety regulations and causing severe injuries.