GASTONIA, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - New details in a FOX 46 investigation into a 12-year-old boy's death at a Gastonia trampoline park. A source tells FOX 46 Matthew Lu landed on the tile floor below the rock climbing wall at Altitude Trampoline Park, and he sustained severe brain trauma.
Altitude Trampoline Park has only been open for seven months. Gastonia EMS tells FOX 46 they've already responded to the park four times. One call was for a broken ankle; another was for Lu's tragic fall.
"This is the first major injury that we've come across for all Altitude as a brand," said Courtney Wilde, a representative with Altitude Trampoline Park.
Prior to Lu's death, FOX 46 was investigating some of the catastrophic injuries at trampoline parks across the U.S.
In the past two years, Mecklenburg County EMS has racked up the miles, responding to injuries at trampoline parks in our area:
- 10 traumatic injuries & 6 falls at Big Air on Sardis Rd.
- 18 traumatic injuries & 6 falls at Defy Gravity on University Boulevard.
- 11 traumatic injuries & 5 falls at Sky Zone in Pineville
- 9 traumatic injuries & 2 falls at Sky High in Pineville.
Don McPherson is an experienced gymnast who testifies as an expert in court cases involving these parks.
"Having these trampolines interconnected is negligence," he told FOX 46.
McPherson says the design of trampolines is flawed and causes injuries.
"It's an epidemic," he said. "Open fracture femurs, open fracture tibia/fibula, open fractured elbows, broken backs, broken necks, he listed.
That includes a gruesome injury at an Altitude Trampoline Park in Lubbock, TX.
"He amputated his foot instantly on the spot on the trampoline he was on," McPherson said.
An Altitude representative disputed that claim, saying "His foot was not amputated, his foot was fractured, specifically a broken ankle."
Additionally, they stood by the statement that they haven't had major injuries at their parks adding, "I think that we can agree that the incident that took place at the park we're currently discussing was a more severe injury than a broken bone. That's what we're categorizing this as."
The Lowell Police Department said they reached out to OSHA, which said they wouldn't investigate the death since the injury didn't involve an employee. They also contacted the Department of Labor, which said they don't inspect trampoline parks.