Red River Ex sued after teen paralyzed in Crazy Mouse roller coaster accident

A teen seriously hurt at the Red River Exhibition in Winnipeg two years ago is suing the Ex and North American Midway Entertainment.

Adam Martens, 18, is a quadriplegic requiring 24/7 care

A teen seriously hurt at the Red River Exhibition in Winnipeg two years ago is suing the Ex and North American Midway Entertainment. 2:09

A teen seriously hurt at the Red River Exhibition in Winnipeg two years ago is suing the Ex and North American Midway Entertainment.

Adam Martens, who is now 18, was hit by the undercarriage of a car on the Crazy Mouse roller coaster when he walked through a gap in a fence to get his baseball cap, which blew off during the ride, according to court documents filed Tuesday in Winnipeg.

"He could've died," said his mom, Priscilla Meeches. "He's suffering in a body that doesn't work. He's a prisoner in a body that doesn't work."

Martens suffered a spinal cord injury that has left him a quadriplegic. He requires constant 24/7 home care for personal hygiene and daily tasks, the lawsuit states.

"I feed him. I get his meds. He has to be [catheterized], washed up," said Meeches. "[Before the crash] Adam was active. He was on his trampoline or on his four-wheeler – hockey. He was a daredevil."

"The catastrophic injuries have led to a significant change in lifestyle," the lawsuit claims.
Adam Martens suffered a spinal cord injury during a rollercoaster accident in 2013 that left him a quadriplegic. (CBC)

"Before the injury, Adam was an active teenager. He broke in his two horses to ride, he played hockey, baseball, drove a car and had a girlfriend who he adored," the lawsuit says, adding his family has had to pay for medical treatment and pharmaceuticals."

The court documents say the Red River Exhibition Association, the Red River Exhibition Foundation, North American Midway Entertainment and three "John Doe" ride operators should have done more to warn Martens he would likely lose his cap during the ride.

He is a prisoner in a body that no longer works- Statement of claim

It claims they didn't operate the ride safely, failed to set up a properly fenced and secure perimeter to deter children from entering the area and didn't stop Martens from going to retrieve his cap.

"After the plaintiff got off the ride, he asked the person who let him off the ride whether a ride operator would retrieve his baseball cap for him. The ride operator refused to do so, responding in a negative fashion, using expletive language," the lawsuit states.

"The plaintiff says he was left with the impression from the ride operators that if they plaintiff wanted his baseball cap back, he would have to retrieve it himself."

Garth Rogerson, the CEO of the Red River Exhibition Association, described this as a "very unfortunate incident" but said he is unable to comment on pending litigation.
Winnipeg police respond to the Red River Ex on June 20, 2013 after Adam Martens was struck by a rollercoaster cart. (CBC)

After the accident on June 20, 2013, Rogerson told CBC News the roller coaster can go up to 45 km/h, and hats are forbidden on the ride. He said there was a fence in place to protect riders.

"He (Martens) was on the ride, and he lost his hat, and we would retrieve it for him, but he didn't wait, and he jumped the fence to retrieve it," Rogerson said two years ago.

"There's a reason why we have that fence there, and if you jump it, then bad things happen."
Adam Martens communicates with his family using an iPad, and his family relies on a constant stream of medical supplies to take care of him. (CBC)

A spokesperson for North American Midway Entertainment in Farmland, Ind., said as of Wednesday, they had not received any notice of a lawsuit and would not be able to comment.

The lawsuit describes Martens as coming from a "significantly disadvantaged socio-economic status, having no income and very few possessions. One of his few possessions that he did possess and that he did consider valuable was his Adidas brand baseball cap."

'16 year olds will do what 16 year olds are going to do'

Harley Schachter, Martens' lawyer, said the reason for the lawsuit was twofold, "Number one, to make sure that children in Manitoba are safer in amusement parks, and number two, to afford Adam the facilities he needs throughout his lifetime to better his condition."

Schachter said the family hasn't specified an amount of money in the lawsuit, as they are still determining what Martens will need.
At age 16, Adam Martens was hit by the undercarriage of a car on the Crazy Mouse roller coaster at the Red River Ex in Winnipeg. This is a photo of him before the accident. (CBC)

"Unfortunately, that is going to be costly because he is a quadriplegic," said Schachter.

Schachter said ride operators should have told Martens before he got on the ride that he had to take his hat off. He said the Ex should have ensured the fence couldn't be breached by young kids or teens.

Finally, he said, they should have retrieved his hat after the ride.

He said the policy that all items lost during the rides can only be retrieved at the end of the day needs to be changed.

"I want everyone who has a 16 year old and who is a parent to put yourself in the parents' shoes," said Schachter. "We all know as parents that 16 year olds will do what 16 year olds are going to do."

The defendants in Canada have 20 days to respond. The American company has 40 days.

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