Some Xscape rides shut down after child injured
Jeremy Brilliant/Eyewitness News
Indianapolis - The rides at a northwest side amusement center have been shut down by the state fire marshal after it was determined they hadn't been inspected in more than a year.
It's the same center where a five-year-old boy was critically injured on a ride last week.
According to the state fire marhsal, Xscape failed to renew their permit, which expired in December. That means inspectors never came out to look at the rides. Officials only realized the lapse Tuesday morning when they went to inspect the ride involved in the accident. (See the inspection reports here.)
Go-carts inside Xscape are still running, but four other rides were shut down by state inspectors. In the video shot by Eyewitness News on Tuesday, there is a "temporarily unavailable" sign on the mini teacup ride where five-year-old Denzel Jennings was critically injured Friday. Exactly how he was hurt is still unclear.
"At this point we really don't know all the facts to make that conclusion," said James Greeson, state fire marshal. Greeson said they did not have a preliminary cause. "That would be speculation and I don't want to speculate on something like that."
Denzel has been in a medically-induced coma since Friday. According to his parents, he suffered fractures to the front and back of his head and had a seizure on the way to the hospital.
"From a ride that's called the tea cup that's made for toddlers, he's fighting for his life right now," said Dennis Jennings, father.
According to Indianapolis Metro Police records, this is the first time someone has been reported injured at Xscape since it was open to the public just over a year ago, in December 2008.
"As far as we can tell it's just an accident that happened, unfortunately, that I don't know what we can do about it at this point," said Phil Thornton, Lafayette Square Mall manager.
Safety experts say a safety bulletin was released last year suggesting seat belts be installed on the mini teacup ride. The ride at Xscape appeared to have seat belts, but it's unclear if they were being used at the time of Friday's accident.
"With any restraint, if the restraint doesn't fit properly or isn't used properly, the rider has the potential to come out of the ride," said Ken Martin, amusement park safety consultant.
Denzel's family is praying and hoping that each day he gets stronger.
"We just want God to restore him and give him back to us the way he left on Friday night," said Denzel's mother, Antoinette Marion.
The state fire marshal's office operates under the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.
Management at Xscape refused to speak about what happened on Friday on the advice of company attorneys. They would not allow Eyewitness News inside to see how the ride could have caused such critical injuries.
Police and attorneys are investigating whether a young adult or older child pushed the seat faster than it was meant to go.