Windsor

Sawed-off golf club punctures girl's skull at Ford Test Track Park

A Grade 8 girl may be left paralyzed after a sawed-off golf club punctured her skull at a city-owned park in Windsor, Ont., her family's lawyer says.

Madison Arsenault remains in critical condition at a London, Ont., hospital

Madison Arsenault is in critical condition in hospital after she was injured at a park in Windsor, Ont. (Provided)

A Grade 8 girl may be left paralyzed after a sawed-off golf club punctured her skull at a city-owned park in Windsor, Ont, her family's lawyer says.

Madison Arseneault, 14, was with her Gordon McGregor Public School gym class, running at Ford Test Track Park on May 25 at 9 a.m. when she was injured.

It appears workers were marking long, straight chalk lines on the grass infield by tying a low lying wire to a series of sawed off golf clubs. As Arsenault  jogged onto the field she became entangled in the wire and the end of one of the clubs impaled the back of her skull.

This sawed-off golf club was one of many staked in the ground at the Ford Test Track. (Provided )

The girl was rushed to Windsor Regional Hospital where doctors performed emergency surgery. She was then airlifted to the pediatric critical care unit at Victoria Hospital in London, Ont., where she remains in critical condition.

"It's looking like it's going to be a long haul," lawyer Jennifer Bezaire said. "There's talk of sending her to a rehab facility after she gets out of critical care. We expect she'll be there for quite some time.

"Madison's family is devastated and has been at her bedside around the clock since this horrible incident occurred," Bezaire said. "They want to know what happened, but right now their priority is Madison's well-being."

Policy changes coming

It's still not clear whether the girl tripped on the wire causing the club to come loose from its mooring and strike her, said Phil Roberts, Windsor's parks director.

He said there were no clear signs marking the line and the clubs were unattended, but they should have been visible.

Though it's the first time an an injury like this has happened, this is one of several park operations that could expose someone to danger, Roberts said.  

Windsor's parks and recreation director Phil Roberts says the city is changing its policies on leaving wires unattended while maintenance work is going on. (CBC )

"Whether it's grass cutting or weed whacking, or we have a sweeper on trails, or we have line-painting going on, the public has the ability to expose themselves to those operations," Roberts said.

"The people doing these jobs, particularly the line-painting job, the operator is so focused on running that straight line, they are unable to assess what is happening around them," he said.   

The Ontario Ministry of Labour investigated the incident since it's possible a worker could have been hurt in the same way. Windsor's Parks and Recreation Department followed the ministry's recommendation to make changes.

Roberts said those changes include adding warning signs around areas where maintenance work is happening, having a worker watching the line and making the stakes easier to see.

Greater Essex County District School Board spokesman Scott Scantlebury said he would not comment on this specific case, but said these situations are investigated by the board as well as the board's insurance provider.