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Defective waterslide leads to death, serious injuries

Summer is on its way, and that means that people throughout Montana are going to take to their pool to cool off during the warm days. Recent information released from a government agency may cause some people to rethink their summer fun, though. A series of products liability suits has prompted the recall of a popular home waterslide.

After the death of a 29-year-old woman and a number of other injuries, more than 21,000 inflatable Banzai in-ground pool waterslides have been recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Stores such as Wal-Mart and Toys R Us have offered to provide full refunds for consumers who choose to return the slides.

The slides were found to deflate suddenly, causing the user to plummet more than six feet to the hard ground below. The slides can also tip over in windy conditions, posing a significant risk to consumers of all ages, according to the commission. The primary victim in the cases has been a 29-year-old mother who was sliding down the apparatus head-first in 2006. As she came to the edge of the pool, the slide shifted and deflated, causing her to hit her head on the concrete. The woman was paralyzed and died the following day from her severe injuries.

A jury awarded the woman's family $20.6 million from Toys R Us in the associated products liability case. The slides were produced in China by Manley Toys.

In addition, a 24-year-old man has become a quadriplegic as a result of going down the slide, and another woman fractured her neck because of quick deflation.

CPSC officials say that additional injury reports will likely surface as a result of the recall. Often, people fail to report injuries because they think they did not assemble an item properly, or perhaps they think they did something else wrong. CPSC leaders also caution people who use the slides to return them immediately, even if nothing has happened yet. The slide is dangerous because its potential for collapse is unpredictable.

Source: KSEE 24 News, "Woman's death leads to inflatable slide recall," staff reports, May 10, 2012

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