WARNING: Some details in this story may be disturbing to some readers.
A Calgary man is seeking answers after a trip to an indoor trampoline park with his sons went horribly wrong.
Kyle Gibbons said on Tuesday afternoon he was playing basketball at the Flying Squirrel Trampoline Park when his fingers somehow got caught in the hoop netting.
Gibbons said half of his index finger was severed, and the middle finger was barely hanging on.
The index finger could not be reattached.
“It was very painful. The shock of holding my hand with my finger missing was… the shock was very high,” Gibbons said.
“It all happened so quick. I didn’t get hung up. I just literally — in a second — went up and came down. One finger was off in front of me on the trampoline.”
Gibbons remained at the Foothills Medical Centre on Thursday night after having undergone surgery to reconstruct two of his fingers.
Gibbons’ father Marc said he was in shock at what happened.
“Obviously it was pretty horrific to see his finger missing… he might be that big, but he’s still my son,” Marc said.
The Gibbons are now questioning the safety of the park. They claim unlike regular basketball, the added element of a trampoline makes it unsafe.
“I’d like them to review the safety on that side of things with the trampoline and the basketball net,” Kyle said. “I don’t think it’s that safe of an activity — combining the two.”
“Where was the safety check on jumping off a big block at the end of a trampoline, bouncing and then slamdunking a basketball? Where’s the safety check that is a safe procedure to do as a pastime?” Marc asked.
In a statement to Global News, Flying Squirrel said its “No. 1 priority is the safety of our parks and attractions.”
“We take these matters very seriously,” the statement read in part. “Like any recreational activity, there is a risk for injury. Per company policy, the equipment in question was thoroughly inspected by our on-site management team.
“This incident is unprecedented. As trampoline park operators with over 10 years of experience in this industry, we have never experienced a customer injured in this fashion from the basketball net.”
Flying Squirrel added that when the hoop and facility was inspected, its team “found no flaws or inconsistencies of any kind.”
“We are confident that this was a freak accident that could occur on any basketball court in a park, gymnasium and home.”
Kyle and Marc said staff at the time were very kind, helpful and sympathetic to their case. However, they said there needs to be a review.
“Something needs to be changed,” Kyle said. “It needs to be looked at and something needs to be done.”
Flying Squirrel requires participants to sign a waiver before entry. However, Kyle said he couldn’t have anticipated losing parts of his hand.
“I know there’s a risk of jumping on trampolines but I didn’t expect to go there and lose my finger and amputate part of my body,” he said.
Kyle works in the drilling industry in the winter months and has a window cleaning business during the spring. He said he’s concerned thinking about the adjustments that will need to be made in his daily life.
Marc said the family is looking at possible insurance claims and has tried to connect with Flying Squirrel about the next steps.
“We offer our sincerest apologies to the injured customer and wish him a swift and pain-free recovery,” Flying Squirrel said.
According to Parachute, a national organization dedicated to injury prevention, trampoline injuries continue to increase in Canada, significantly among child and youth, despite the introduction of new safety aspects, such as safety nets.
The group cites research from the academic journal Paediatrics & Child Health.
“Reducing or eliminating use of trampolines, especially for children and youth, can impact the number of injuries. Not performing stunts, having adequate supervision and one person using the trampoline at a time are also ways to reduce injuries,” Parachute CEO Pamela Fuselli said.
The group said it aligns with the Canadian Paediatric Society’s position on trampolines — recommending that parents do not buy or use trampolines at home for children and youth.