‘I was certain’ zip wire was fine, inquest told

Bailey Sumner-Lonsdale, 11, from Grange Park, died following a fall from a zip  wire in North Wales.
Bailey Sumner-Lonsdale, 11, from Grange Park, died following a fall from a zip wire in North Wales.
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A worker at a forest adventure park “was certain” an 11-year-old boy was connected properly to a zip wire ride, an inquest heard.

Bailey Sumner-Lonsdale, from Wensleydale Avenue, Grange Park, was visiting the Greenwood Forest Park near Felinheli, North Wales, with his family on Easter Sunday two years ago.

The 11-year-old was riding the newly installed Swampflyer at the park but became detached from the zip wire and fell, suffering serious head injuries.

A nurse and doctor, who were visiting the park, raced to his aid and Bailey was airlifted to hospital but died later.

An inquest jury at Dolgellau has already heard Bailey fell from the zip wire because a harness was hooked to a “false loop” in a lanyard.

The park’s managing director, Stephen Bristow, said the false loop should have been spotted in the final pre-launch check of the ride.

But in a statement, ride worker Sion Richard Hughes does not believe he made a mistake with safety equipment.

The jury heard Mr Hughes, 23, has moved to Australia and could not be present.

His statement was read out to the jury by a coroner’s officer.

He described how he had checked the harness, ropes and zip wire equipment before Bailey was launched from the ride platform down the 145m zip wire.

Mr Hughes said: “I’m certain he was connected to the right loop.

“I do not believe I clipped the carabiner to the wrong loop on the harness.

“I believe I would have noticed, it would just look wrong.”

He added he did not know how Bailey fell from the zip wire.

Mr Hughes added: “The only thing I can think of is that Bailey opened the carabiner himself.”

He had not seen Bailey unclip the carabiner but he added his “hands were in that area”.

The ride’s designer, Brian Phelps, told the jury on Tuesday it would be difficult for anyone to open the carabiner while riding the zip wire.

Mr Hughes added he felt the training he had been given was “inadequate” and the operators had a lot of responsibility.

“My heart stopped whenever someone stepped off, it was nerve wracking,” he said.

Mr Hughes said he had watched Bailey on the wire for a short distance before turning to assist the next rider.

He heard a “loud thump” and thought someone had dropped a mobile phone, then realised there was no one on the zipwire.

Bailey’s mum, Dawn, wiped tears from her eyes as Mr Hughes’ statement was read out.


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