MONTICELLO — The parents of a 12-year-old Lafayette boy who died while on board an amusement park ride have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Indiana Beach and its parent company, Apex Parks Group.
According to court documents filed July 15 in White County Superior Court, Matthew Douglas and Shaeley Cooper allege their son, Brayden, “was injured while riding” the Hoosier Hurricane on June 27 and “sustained serious bodily injuries which caused his death.”
Brayden was on the ride when he suddenly became unresponsive. The Monticello Fire Department, along with other law enforcement and rescue personnel, was the first to respond to the scene. He was transported to Indiana University Health White Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Six days before Brayden died, Indiana Beach celebrated the 25th anniversary of the ride and proclaimed June 21 as “Hoosier Hurricane Day.” A few days after Brayden’s death, a 12-year-old girl claimed she received an electric shock while trying to lift the restraining bar to disembark the ride.
According to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, the ride was inspected June 30 at the request of Indiana Beach officials and determined to be safe. The ride was also tested for electrical instances and failed to produce any during those tests.
The lawsuit pertaining to Brayden's death alleges the park should have had “available sufficient personnel and equipment to properly inspect and maintain” a safe ride, “knew or should have known of the unreasonable risk of danger” and “failed to either discover it or to correct it after discovery.”
The complaint alleges it was the duty of Apex Parks Group and Indiana Beach to use ordinary care and diligence to keep and maintain a reasonably safe environment free from all defects and conditions that would render the premises dangerous and unsafe.
The complaint also alleges the boy’s death was “caused by the negligence of” Indiana Beach and its owner “who failed to utilize reasonable care in the inspection and maintenance” of the park and its rides. It went on to say “the negligence of the defendant was the proximate cause of fatal injuries” to Brayden.
On Aug. 7, White County Coroner Anthony Deibel ruled Brayden’s death “undetermined.” He said an autopsy revealed no trauma, injury, congenital abnormalities or toxins.
The complaint seeks an unspecified dollar amount for medical, funeral and burial expenses, as well as for loss of support, care, love and affection, attorney’s fees, court costs and “for all other proper relief." The boy’s parents are represented by Bradford J. Smith of Ken Nunn Law Office in Bloomington.
Smith declined comment via email when asked if the coroner's ruling would affect the wrongful death lawsuit.
Indiana Beach did not respond to a request for comment.