Girl, aged 15, in ICU after her hair is caught in go-kart at Durban mall
A 15-year-old Durban girl has spent a week in ICU with spinal bruising, spinal cord damage and a torn aorta after her hair became tangled in her go-kart during an action-karting race at Gateway Mall in Durban. Vernon Govender said his daughter Kristen was injured on Wednesday, 28 December 2022. He said doctors told him his daughter also has a torn scalp and no movement from her waist down. Govender, who could not say how the incident happened, said Kristen had her helmet on and her hair was tied into a ponytail. He said while family members were present, she was assisted by bystanders who called paramedics.
“The doctors said they won’t rush her to the surgery because she is young. They are taking measures to see how her body is reacting to the medication. My focus is for her to get better, walk out of the hospital and go back to school. There are a lot of answers I need but I will deal with things regarding the incident after my daughter is home with us,” he said.
Govender said the mall contacted him on Tuesday. Gateway Mall confirmed the incident at the Action Karting establishment last Wednesday. The mall representative said “due to the sensitive nature of the incident and out of respect for the family” it would not comment on the details about the incident at this stage. It added that a management representative was in contact with her father since the day after the incident. “Members of our team have also met with family members at the centre’s management office. The centre’s security responded immediately after being made aware of the incident and proceeded to call emergency services. The centre’s security supervisor was in attendance at the scene until the ambulance left the centre. Where possible the centre will assist with any information, reports and details needed by the family.”
Govender said Kristin had been wearing a hair net and helmet and her hair came undone when she hit the tyres. She was rushed to hospital. Govender said it has been a traumatic ordeal for the family and they know it’s a long road ahead for Kristin.
A shopping centre spokesman said that because of the investigation and out of respect for the family, they would not comment.
But the dad alleges he had received just one phone call from the go-kart track to find out how his daughter is. He said, “That was the day after the incident, in fact I had called the mall management and they said they were not even aware of the incident and he accused them of 'complete negligence. It’s really scary that they run the establishment and they don’t even know what's going on. There’s been no further calls from the go-karting place or the mall and it’s been six days since the incident.”
Govender continued, “There was just an indemnity form signed, when I asked my daughter about the safety protocols she said they were just told to put on a helmet and drive. They didn’t give them any videos to watch or any instructions on how to operate the kart. This is a piece of machinery and you need to have safety instructions. On the day of the incident during the ride, my daughter said that a piece of the vehicle had come out when she went into the tunnel."
Govender claimed that his daughter had checked with staff if it was safe to continue before the horror incident. "She said she asked an employee on the track about the piece and he just pulled the plastic piece off and told her to carry on. She asked him if he was sure it was all right to continue and he told her it was, he said just get on and drive. The establishment followed no safety precautions and offered no first aid whatsoever. My 13-year-old son who was with them ran to the offices of the management and they closed the offices and disappeared from the scene”, he said.
Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, has shut down the facility at Gateway. She has ordered a full investigation into the incident. “We are on the eve of the start of the 2023 school year and we are saddened that this young girl will not be able to start the school year in the first term. We were also very disturbed to learn that when our teams went to inspect the area, they did not get cooperation from the management of the amusement park. We call on the police to leave no stone unturned in order to get to the bottom of this horrific incident,” she said.
Dube-Ncube said as the provincial government, she is calling upon all businesses owning such entertainment facilities to ensure compliance and that all safety protocols are implemented. “Patrons must also be given a full induction before participating. Profits should not be put forward at the expense of the lives of customers. We will be visiting similar establishments in in shopping centres across the province to ensure compliance,” the premier said.
Source: TimesLIVE, IOL, The Sun