WESTLAKE, OH (WOIO) - "Fly Fun—and Fly Safe."
That's the motto of a popular chain of trampoline parks. There's no disputing the parks are a lot of fun. But are they safe? Chief Investigator Carl Monday went undercover to find out.
"I was screaming right away. It hurt so bad," Nathan Steadman told Monday. "I knew it was dislocated very bad."
Nathan was injured last month after another jumper at the Westlake Sky Zone came crashing down on his knee.
The high school tennis player isn't alone. In less than two years since it opened, Westlake Fire Rescue has responded to the Sky Zone in that community some fifty times, usually to treat injuries that often include broken ankles and busted knees.
EMS has responded a dozen times to Sky Zones in Highland Heights and Boston Heights, which have been open only about six months.
"I don't think people know the potential of what could happen," said Nathan's mother Lynn.
Sky Zone says it has strict rules at its parks and monitors to enforce them.
When Monday went undercover at the Westlake location recently, he did find plenty of monitors on duty.
While they seemed attentive, it didn't stop some jumpers from doing potentially dangerous moves, like flipping backward, flipping from mat to mat and adults jumping near young children.
Even simple "front flips" are discouraged by Sky Zone rules, prominently posted throughout the facility.
Sky Zone says they could cause serious injury, an observation echoed by Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital Pediatric Medicine Doctor Susanna Briskin.
"When they flip they are at high risk for having a neck injury which could result in being paralyzed," said Dr. Briskin.
Sky Zone says only about one per cent of the 450,000 jumpers who have used the parks in Westlake and Highland Hills have been injured.
But Dr. Briskin says the type of injuries tend to be more serious than those in other athletic activities.
If you or your child does get injured at Sky Zone, don't expect the company to assume responsibility.
Elk & Elk Attorney Craig McLaughlin says Sky Zone and other parks protect themselves with ironclad waivers that all users are required to sign.
"They protect the park from any negligence," he says. "And those types of policies have been upheld by Ohio courts consistently."
Only two states have laws in the works that would regulate trampoline parks. Ohio is not one of them.
For now, Nathan Steadman says he'll be staying away from Sky Zone, at least if his mom has anything to say about it.
"If a swimming pool or something had this many accidents, somebody would be looking at what's going on," she said.