Parents' plight after ANOTHER child breaks leg on notorious NSW slide

·News Reporter
·4-min read

Frustrated parents have banded together to remove a slide from a NSW playground following ongoing reports of serious injuries including broken legs, skin burns and fractured facial bones.

Shoalhaven's Boongaree Nature Play Park at Berry, on the state's south coast, has been the source of dozens of serious accidents since its opening in January, but concerns from residents are going unnoticed, locals say.

In April, four-year-old girl India broke both her legs after riding tandem down the slide with her dad. Widespread concern from other parents swiftly followed.

Another child breaks leg on slide

On Monday, Mitchell Liddicoat, from Nowra, visited the park with his daughter Harlow for the first time since its opening, but like with India, the fun-filled afternoon turned tragic.

"We came out at the bottom of the slide and she was absolutely hysterical and screaming," Mr Liddicoat told Yahoo News Australia, who went down the slide with his daughter.

Three-year-old Harlow in hospital leg with broken leg x ray
Three-year-old Harlow is the latest child to break a bone on the playground slide and parents are fed up. Source: Supplied

"It was a blood-curdling scream. I'll never forget it. I still can't get that out of my head."

Hospital scans later showed a broken tibia, also known as the shin bone. Her dad suspects it occurred when the pair were "catapulted" into the air before landing again after hitting a "kink" in the slide.

'Steady stream of injuries' every week

Mr Liddicoat had heard about incidents happening previously and avoided the park for some time. But following an independent assessment from Kidsafe which apparently concluded the park was safe, he finally decided to go.

Mr Liddicoat said he heard of India's injury in April after her mum Tisha Fleming questioned the slide's safety on Facebook.

Shoalhaven's all-ages Boongaree Nature Play Park at Berry playground
The park only opened in January and already has dozens of complaints, particularly over the dangerous slide in the playground. Supplied: Shoalhaven City Council

She warned the slide was "very steep and fast," and dozens more agreed.

At the time, just three months after the park's opening, Ms Fleming had racked up a list of roughly 30 parents whose kids had suffered an injury of their own.

Hospital staff supposedly told her husband they'd seen a number of broken bones caused by the park, Ms Fleming told Yahoo News Australia.

Now, four months later, Mr Liddicoat was told the same thing, that a "steady stream of injuries come from that particular park every single week," he told Yahoo.

But still, nothing has been done about the playground's potentially dangerous equipment, and parents have had enough.

Girl with two broken legs in plaster
India broke both her legs going down the slide at the park in April. Source: Supplied/Tisha Fleming

Parents start petition for change

Ms Fleming and Mr Liddicoat are now working together with hopes of finding a way to make the steep metal slide safer for kids, and hopefully avoid any more injuries.

Following Monday's accident, Mr Liddicoat's wife Tayla started a petition which gained almost 100 signatures by Thursday.

They hope to alert other parents of the playground's hazardous nature and have the slide modified to make it safer for children.

While at the playground on Monday, Mr Liddicoat witnessed a "grown man" attempt to go down the slide.

"He got thrown around inside and spat out the end and landed flat on his back," he recalled, adding the man called it "dangerous."

The dad said he's now aware of the warning against tandem riding, but he feels his daughter's injuries "could have been worse" if she was alone, because he held her close, stopping her from "flailing around."

Steep metal slide and three-year-old girl in car seat with broken leg
Harlow was going down the 'really steep and fast' slide when she snapped her shin bone. Source: Supplied

"How many more kids need to get hurt before they actually do something about it?" he said, criticising the local council.

"I'm not trying to get them to close the park or the slide, I'm not trying to ruin the fun for the kids. But, you know, if it's not safe for an adult to go down, how is it safe for a four-year-old child?" he questioned.

He said he wants concerns from parents to be "taken seriously" so he, and some others, have sought legal counsel.

"[It's] a dangerous piece of equipment that's going to cause more injuries if they don't do something about it," Mr Liddicoat said.

Young Harlow is "doing ok" but is on heavy pain medication. She is also looking at surgery to help fix her broken leg, and potentially a rod to help it heal.

Yahoo News Australia contacted Shoalhaven Council for comment but has not yet heard back. In April, a council spokesperson told Yahoo that equipment should be used with "responsible care."

Kidsafe was also contacted for comment.

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