Florida family files $1M lawsuit against Ober Gatlinburg after child falls from rock wall, docs say

The suit alleges a child was able to climb up a rock wall without a harness before falling and hitting his head on concrete.
The suit alleges a child was able to climb up a rock wall without a harness before falling and hitting his head on concrete.
Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 9:00 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A Florida family is suing Ober Gatlinburg for $1 million after a child fell from a rock wall at the amusement park, according to documents obtained by WVLT News.

The incident reportedly happened on July 30, 2021 when the plaintiffs, Donna Ameller and her 9-year-old son, were visiting Ober Gatlinburg. According to the filing, Ameller’s son wanted to climb the rock wall and was able to scale up the wall and back down about halfway when he fell, hitting his head on the concrete floor.

In normal circumstances, those climbing the rock wall are supposed to be placed by employees into a harness that self-repels climbers down the wall once they reach the top, according to Ober Gatlinburg’s website. Ameller’s suit alleged that employees didn’t secure her son before he began climbing to the top of the wall.

“Because Ober Gatlinburg had failed to place [Ameller’s son] in a safety harness and attach him to the belay system, [his] fall was not arrested until he hit the concrete at the bottom of the rock wall,” the documents stated.

Additionally, the suit called out Ober Gatlinburg for not having soft padding at the bottom of the wall, should someone fall from it.

“So, when [Ameller’s son] struck the ground, he struck his head directly against concrete, suffering a skull fracture and traumatic brain injury,” the filing said.

The suit, which requests a jury trial, claims that Ameller and her son are owed for medical expenses, disfigurement, pain and suffering, loss of the enjoyment of life and legal expenses. In total, the family is asking for $1 million.

WVLT News has reached out to Ober Gatlinburg for comment and will update this story once we hear back.

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