Family says amusement park discriminated against daughter with prosthetic leg

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OKLAHOMA CITY - An Oklahoma family says they were discriminated against at an amusement park because of their daughter's prosthetic leg.

Averie Mitchell, 8, was born with a condition that caused her right leg to have to be amputated below the knee.

But she doesn't let her prosthetic leg slow her down one bit; she's on a competitive gymnastics team.

"I can do a cart-wheel on the balance beam," Averie said. "Right now I'm working on back walkovers."

She does everything a kid with two legs does and more.

Averie Mitchell, 8, was born with a condition that caused her right leg to have to be amputated below the knee. - Courtesy: KFOR-TV

Averie Mitchell, 8, was born with a condition that caused her right leg to have to be amputated below the knee. - Courtesy: KFOR-TV

That's why she and her family were so shocked Saturday at Frontier City's Wild West Water Works.

"We were getting ready to go down the slide and the attendant stepped in front of the slide and told Averie, 'you can't go down,'" her mom, Kim Mitchell, said.

Averie and her mom walked all the way back down to speak with the lead attendant, who told them the prosthetic could scratch their slides.

"I was angry, I was upset. My child was crying. She thought she had done something wrong," Kim said.

"I was kind of mad and sad," Averie said.

"I think they absolutely discriminated against her, giving the reason that it could scratch their slide," Averie's dad, John Mitchell, said. "People wear bracelets, watches, rings."

Oklahoma amusement park, Frontier City, wouldn't let girl with prosthetic leg go down water slide. - Courtesy: KFOR-TV

Oklahoma amusement park, Frontier City, wouldn't let girl with prosthetic leg go down water slide. - Courtesy: KFOR-TV

And even though management claimed it was part of their policy, the Mitchells said it is not on any sign, nor in the online regulations.

"We go to a lot of different places and never have we been treated like this," John said.

The family said they were humiliated as they were escorted to the front of the park by security so they could speak to a manager.

They say the policy needs to be more clear.

"Put it out there so other kids, or whoever, you know, they're not on top of the slide getting ready to start their day of fun at the water park when they're told, 'Sorry, you've got to leave,'" John said.

Frontier City management released this statement about the incident:

"Our goal at Frontier City is to create family fun and fond memories for each of our guests while placing a priority on guest safety. Our Ride Admission Policy has been developed in consultation with industry professionals, based on the recommendations of the ride manufacturer, past experiences, and evaluations of each ride using knowledge of the ride in all operating conditions.

Like many water parks across the United States, regulations regarding loose articles and medical assistance devices are enforced to ensure the safety of each guest. Unfortunately, we can?t allow loose articles, swimwear with exposed metal ornamentation, casts, certain limb braces, or prosthetic devices on certain slides at Wild West Water Works.

We never want to refuse our guests the opportunity to enjoy our attractions, but we must also always follow guidelines that have been set by our industry to insure the safety of all guests. To avoid any confusion or heartache in the future, we will strive to make sure this is communicated better in advance by adding the restrictions to our website and ride signage. We deeply regret any disappointment caused to our guests due to our Ride Admission Policies. Again, our first priority is guest safety and our mission is to provide the best experience possible for all of our guests."

Late Monday afternoon, Frontier City management told KFOR-TV the specific restrictions had already been added to their website and that they were in the process of adding it to the signs at the attractions.

The family did receive a full refund for their park tickets Saturday.

More: See the latest on this story from KFOR-TV

7 comments

  • Ken

    Hopefully they don’t try and sue like so many stupid people would. The policy makes sense, it probably should have been made better known but not necessarily on every sign in the park, online probably would have made sense

  • yesenia

    The parents say they have gone to many amusement park .with more reason they should be familiar the this policies are made different for many of water park and dont allow prostetics that will be the main reason they should it ask prior and dont wait for someone to told then about it even if you dont see it anywhere posted.They know the main reason is another kid could be kick at head or face plus so many kids could use that prostetic making a donation when
    dont fit her no more why damage it with the chlorine .Even they say nothing stop her .i will teach her to take care the prosteric the costly and other kids coul benefit after her they dont corode but plastics will slowly damage in pools

  • Duane Mowrer

    Federal ADA laws do require parks and other businesses to make “reasonable accommodations”. It does seem that there could easily be a number of quick accommodations that would have allowed the kid to use the slide – the park might want to reconsider this policy.

  • Destiny Bradford

    Why didn’t she just take off her prosthetic if it really meant that much to her? This is not discrimination if its part of their policy and manufacturers specifications. Discrimination would be preventing her from going down the slide for the sole reason of her having a prosthetic. I’m sorry that they were embarrassed but the world doesn’t revolve around people with special needs. As for the reasonable accommodations clause I don’t believe that covers having to invent new material for the slides that doesn’t get scratched from medical devices.

    • miles (dave)

      i thought the same thing too with just taking it off but she may need to walk, or needs it to get out of the pool at the bottom. but i did think it would have been best if they had required that she wrap the leg in something like a towel or put a few soccer shin guards on it and a sock on the foot. this lets her keep the leg, the slide is protected and all is well.

    • ashley

      You know until you personally have to go through this you dont know what it’s like. Let’s see you walk with one leg shorter than the other up steps to go down the water slide because you have to take off your prosthetic that you consider part of your body. Some ppl are so heartless

  • Wendy Barnes

    Typical today parents. Let’s teach her that every ‘no’ is personal and he who cries longest, win. Or just that we have to follow the rules, too. People don’t understand that people do get hurt on these rides. The policies are for everyone’s safety. Now let’s sue.

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