Loop mix-up blamed for zip wire tragedy

Bailey Sumner-Lonsdale  who died following the incident on the zip wire.
Bailey Sumner-Lonsdale who died following the incident on the zip wire.
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An 11-year-old Blackpool schoolboy fell from a zip wire because he had been wrongly attached to the equipment, an inquest jury was told.

Bailey Sumner-Lonsdale, from Wensleydale Avenue, Grange Park, fell from the high wire at the Greenwood Forest Park near Felinheli on Easter Sunday two years ago and suffered serious head injuries.

Bailey Sumner-Lonsdale  who died following the incident on the zip wire.

Bailey Sumner-Lonsdale who died following the incident on the zip wire.

He was airlifted to hospital, but died later.

The inquest at Dolgellau heard the SwampFlyer ride at the popular forest park, which attracts around 110,000 visitors a year, had been open only a week.

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

He told North Wales deputy coroner Nicola Jones: “The loop should have been noticed in the final, pre-launch check and corrected.”

He said staff had been trained to operate the ride.

“The training required them to be absolutely rigorous about what they were doing,” Mr Bristow added.

Mr Bristow said the idea for a zip wire had been put forward by managers at the park during November 2010 and he had researched the idea extensively on the internet.

A company which had installed similar zip wire rides at other parks was engaged to design and construct the ride.

Mr Bristow added after it had been built it was tested thoroughly by an independent inspection team before it opened.

He said professional guidance had been obtained before the ride opened. He had not been warned about the risk of a false loop.

The park had used a voluntary Health and Safety Executive approved scheme of safety inspections, and an expert had passed the ride as safe.

“We get the best advice we can find,” Mr Bristow said.

The jury heard there was “top-quality equipment” and staff were trained to check equipment.

During the first few days of operation some of the lanyards developed loops and these were altered.

“I knew these were forming from about Wednesday and I asked my son to straighten them out. I never saw any risk,” he added.

Mr Bristow said he was not at the park when the tragedy happened. By the time he arrived Bailey had already been taken to hospital.

He said the ride had been used safely by several hundred adults and children before the incident.

After Bailey’s death the park was closed for several days.

Mr Bristow said the SwampFlyer was removed immediately after Bailey’s death.

He added: “I didn’t want it to remain there. It was a symbol of tragedy.”

Pathologist Dr Anthony Caslin said Bailey died after suffering a brain injury due to a fractured skull following a fall from height.

Bailey’s mother Dawn, and other members of family are attending the hearing.

North Wales deputy coroner Nicola Jones told the family the delay between Bailey’s death and the inquest being held was down to a police investigation and subsequent discussions with the Crown Prosecution Service.

She told the jury: “What we want to know is how he came to die. This isn’t a court that deals with any issues of blame. Nobody is on trial here.”

Bailey’s grandfather, Philip Lonsdale, agreed: “We want to make sure nothing like this happens again.”

The inquest continues.

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