Maureen Kerley Pushes for Trampoline-Park Regulations Following 2012 Death of Son at Phoenix's SkyPark
Maureen Kerley believes that her son, Ty Thomasson, might be alive today if a local trampoline park had adhered to certain standards.
Thomasson, 30, died on February 2, 2012, after jumping into the foam pit at the SkyPark Indoor Trampoline Park in Phoenix about one week after the park opened.
Despite her accusation, Kerley has never filed a claim or lawsuit against the park.
Instead, she's been busy trying to change the trampoline-park industry.
A bill she's pushing with other trampoline-regulation advocates has been advancing through the California State Legislature, and Kerley says she'll be talking with Arizona lawmakers next.
The logo of Think Before You Bounce, a California group focused on regulating indoor trampoline parks.
Image: Think Before You Bounce's Facebook site.
Kerley was a longtime Scottsdale resident, single mother and real-estate agent before getting married and moving to Coronado Island in San Diego about six months after Ty's death. (She's officially Maureen Kerley-Milke now, but still goes by Kerley.)
Thomasson's death left his mother and sisters grief-stricken; it also brought public concern about the growing number of trampoline parks and how they're managed. At least seven are now open in the Valley, according to yelp.com.
Media reports after the tragedy showed that dozens of injuries have occurred at the parks. Thomasson's accident was by far the worst of the lot.
Thomasson worked as an account executive for Yelp.com before died, though many also knew him as the bar manager for three years at the now-defunct Pink Taco restaurant in Scottsdale.
A snowboarder and avid fly-fisherman, Ty was "extremely athletic," Kerley says. Sure, he was taking a risk when he attempted a half-gainer into the facility's foam pit, but Kerley claims the park both encouraged risk-taking and failed to protect its customers.
The pit contained foam blocks resting on a trampoline, and is designed to cushion the fall of a trampoline jumper. Kerley says SkyPark's foam pit, (which has remained closed since the tragedy, despite SkyPark's success in the past year-and-a-half), was not even three-feet deep when the "recommended" depth is about six feet.
"Imagine putting a diving board over a play pool and telling you to go for it," Kerley says. "My son broke his neck in five places."
She says Ty was in the pit for eight minutes and had no pulse when paramedics arrived. The responders gave the victim oxygen and CPR, then took another ten minutes to extract him slowly and carefully from the pit. Authorities say Thomasson likely suffered severe brain damage after his oxygen supply was cut off. He died three days later at a local hospital.
Kerley decided the law needed to be changed after one of her daughters put her in touch with Think Before You Bounce, a San Francisco-based activist group formed by people concerned about trampoline injuries. Kerley and representatives of Think Before You Bounce including Tom Paper and Daniel Saniski are pushing a bill they helped draft in California that is being sponsored by California State Senator Ted Lieu. The bill, SB 256, has been sailing through committees and was read before the California State Assembly last week.
The bill aims to have standardized rules developed for trampoline parks that would be enforced by inspectors.
Kerley, along with a volunteer lobbyist, plans to talk to Arizona legislators in the near future about a similar proposal for the state. Laws don't get names in California like they do in Arizona, she says -- she's hoping the Arizona version will be called Ty's Law.
"This would help cut down on the number of accidents immensely," Kerley says. "Trampolines will always have accidents, but you can reduce the amount of severity of accidents."
Owners of trampoline parks should welcome regulation, she says, because it would force all of them to "play by the same rules."
Representatives of SkyPark in Phoenix did not return calls.
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.