Part of the enjoyment that comes from visiting an amusement park is knowing that in some way, each ride will offer its own version of thrills and risks that we might not otherwise take in our everyday lives. A roller coaster gives you a controlled drop, a haunted house gives you a momentary scare, and a bungee cord gives you the feeling of free fall. Wisconsin Dells is the self-proclaimed ‘waterpark capital of the world’ near the center of the state primarily because the population of residents is almost smaller than the number of tourists who drop by to visit one of their many amusement park rides. Last year, a horrifying accident drew attention to the Dells experience in a way most people would never have expected.
Teagan Marti, a 12-year-old girl, was about to be dropped nearly 100-feet in a free fall ride called Terminal Velocity at Extreme World when someone failed to communicate that the net was too low to the ground (a precautionary measure that stands to be the most crucial role of an amusement park operator). Instead of bouncing up after the fall, Marti hit the pavement laying almost entirely still. With her daughter bloodied and struggling to breathe, Marti’s mother was heard crying, ‘Please don’t let my baby die, please don’t let my baby die.’ A MedFlight helicopter was hurried in to lift the girl to a nearby hospital where she remained in critical condition for several months. During that time, doctors noted injuries to her brain, spine, liver, and other organs with the likely potential for at least a partial paralysis. Included in the procedures she underwent were pelvic and back surgery.
Although the ride has an eight-year history without accident, it only takes one frightening moment to bring about concern. Marti, now 13, has finally returned home and undergoes constant rehabilitation. She will never fully recover, but so far, she’s proved the impossible is possible.
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