Saskatoon

Mom says 2-year-old son nearly suffocates during amusement park power outage

A Saskatoon mother says her preschooler became trapped yesterday in an inflatable maze-like series of tunnels and slides during a blackout at an amusement park south of the city. She says no staff were in the area at the time, nor does Crickle Creek run any backup generators during outages.

Crickle Creek does not run backup generators during outages but rides inspected annually

Crickle Creek does not have backup generators for its inflatable amusement park. (Don Somers/CBC)

The mother of a preschooler who became trapped within an inflatable plastic structure yesterday at a Saskatoon-area amusement park says she's still feeling shaken. 

Dionne Miazdyck and her husband brought their sons to Crickle Creek, an amusement park on Valley Road on Sunday afternoon. She said no staff were in the inflatable bouncer area while her boys were playing there, but she and her husband watched their sons closely. 

Then the electricity went out. 

"He went under something and then we realized they were starting to collapse," said Miazdyck. "All the bouncy castles were collapsing." 

No staff in area

Miazdyck's older son, 6, made it out of the "Rat Race" maze-like structure quickly. Her younger son, who turns three this fall, became stuck inside the seven-metre high plastic structure.

Her husband dove inside, trying to locate the preschooler, while Miazdyck tried unsuccessfully to lift the plastic which now covered the boy. She said no staff were in the area at the time.

 'He could be suffocating under this plastic and there was no chance we could get him out.'- Dionne Miazdyck, mother

"It was several minutes and I started to realize he could be suffocating under this plastic and there was no chance we could get him out," said Miazdyck. She said despite yelling and screaming, she could not see or hear her son.

"I realized if I can't pick this up and my toddler is in the middle of that, he's not getting out alive,"she said. 

She was relieved when after about four minutes, the boy burrowed out of a different section of the deflated plastic structure on his own.

No backup generators 

Crickle Creek does not have backup generators for its inflatable amusement park. Its owner estimates the facility has lost power fewer than half a dozen times since it first opened in 2008.

Dave Wigelsworth said a handful of children were using the inflatable structures at the time of Sunday's outage and he made sure no one else was hurt or stuck.

This is the maze-like structure Dionne Miazdyck's preschooler became trapped in, during a power outage Sunday afternoon at Crickle Creek, south of Saskatoon. (Don Somers/CBC)

Miazdyck disputed that, noting no staff arrived until after her son was out.

Wigelsworth said he did not speak to Miazdyck, as he drove to his home nearby to see whether the electricity was also out there. The outage lasted roughly 90 minutes. 

Inflatables inspected annually

Wigelsworth recalled an upset mother clutching her son, but said no one brought a possible suffocation to his attention. 

"No one came to me and said you know, this is what happened," said Wigelsworth. "I could have addressed it at that point."

Dave Wigelsworth said a handful of children were using the inflatable structures at the time of Sunday's outage and he made sure no one else was hurt or stuck. (Don Somers/CBC)

He said he is considering buying a generator, but noted power outages are infrequent, and spending between $10,000 and $20,000 is a large expense for his seasonal business.

"I don't want people to be left with the impression that we just bought rides, blow them up and hope for the best," said Wigelsworth. "That's not the case. These rides are inspected every year."

No safety training or plan

"Another mom came up and was hugging me and calming me down, and saying she'd have felt the same way if it was her kids trapped in that," said Miazdyck. "Obviously for any parent, it's the worst feeling you can have."

Dionne Miazdyck says she's hoping officials can make amusement parks safer for children, after her son nearly suffocated yesterday inside an inflatable structure. It happened during a power outage at Crickle Creek, south of Saskatoon.

Miazdyck then approached a staff member at the concession, who said it was the parents' responsibility to supervise their children. He refunded her money.

"When I asked him where the backup generators were and what the safety plan was, he said there is no safety plan," said Miazdyck. "He said he'd received no training on what to do in that situation."

'It was obvious she was very upset'

Jeffrey Myers and his four-year-old son were also visiting Crickle Creek when the power went out. Myers said the play structures were deflating slowly, and he didn't feel his son was in any danger. He said he saw Miazdyck's son walk out of the maze unharmed.

"Everybody was just kind of sitting around, nobody told us what we could expect or anything like that so after about five minutes my wife and I decided we'd drive down the road and check out the corn maze," said Myers. 

He said parents there knew the rides were unsupervised, and there would have been more danger had the boy remained in the deflating rides 15 minutes or longer. 

"It was obvious she was very upset about the fact her son had been in the maze and she hadn't been able to contact him or get to him," said Myers. "But honestly if he'd been in any danger there were a lot of people there who were willing to help."

'A very dangerous situation for my child'

The rural municipality of Corman Park said Crickle Creek is zoned for recreational use for its par 3 golf course, its mini-golf course, ice cream stand and accessories, which include the inflatable structures. Wigelsworth added inflatable waterslides this year.
This is the maze-like structure Dionne Miazdyck said her preschooler became trapped in, during a power outage Sunday afternoon at Crickle Creek, south of Saskatoon. (Crickle Creek)

Wigelsworth noted since Crickle Creek first opened in 2008, other children have become trapped briefly inside the plastic inflatable structures during other power outages, but have always found their way out.

"If she was here I profusely apologize for the whole situation," said Wigelsworth. "It's the worst case scenario when the power goes out."

Miazdyck said she's contacted the rural municipality and provincial safety officials, asking them to look into safety at Crickle Creek.

"I want to see these types of facilities have proper safety plans, I want to see the government ensure that, and I want to see that there be backup generators at a facility if this happens," she said.

"This was a very dangerous situation for my child."