Jury’s verdict following child’s laser tag game death
An inquest jury has concluded that the death of an eight-year-old boy, who died when a teenager fell on him in a laser game at Leicester’s Megazone, was accidental. The young boy’s father, Rajendra Patel, is now calling for safety guidelines to be changed, which would group players according to their height.
Aryan Patel died from internal injuries following the accident during the Laser Tag game in April.
He had collided heavily with a 6ft teenager as they played in a mixed age session which included 33 other people who were above the age of six and taller than 3ft 7in (1.1m). The teenage boy, who was about 6ft (1.8m), told the inquest he did not realise Aryan was there because of his slight build and the dark lighting in the room.
“He was so small I could not see him over the top of my laser gun. I fell on top of him and he started screaming.” he said, adding that he got up as quickly as he could and people came to Aryan’s aid.
Aryan Patel, who was 3ft 11in (1.2m), died 35 minutes after arriving at Leicester Royal Infirmary having suffered a cardiac arrest.
It was only the second time in the centre’s 26 years in operation that staff had been obliged to call the emergency services
Leicester City Council told the inquest into Aryan’s death, that it would be taking no action against Megazone because it was “satisfied with the company’s health and safety procedures. ”
Coroner Lydia Brown told the jury of seven men and four women that Aryan, who suffered from sickle cell anaemia, had been taken to Megazone after a successful routine appointment at the hospital earlier in the day. Doctors said he was very well.
Pathologist Roger Malcomson, who said that Aryan was very small for his age, concluded that he had suffered a severe liver injury in the collision which had caused major blood loss, which were the causes of death.
He said Aryan’s spleen was grossly enlarged because of his sickle cell anaemia but this did not contribute to his death.
In a statement, Megazone said: “The health and safety officers have investigated our operation and found our company practices and conduct to be completely in order.
“We are sympathetic to the family’s concerns and will consider if and where we can make further improvements.
“Whilst this is the only incident of this nature in 26 years of operation, we will always seek to enhance our policies and maintain the highest standards of safety.”
The company said it was a “tragic accident” and offered its “deepest condolences” to Aryan’s family.
Lessons to be learned?
Speaking about the incident Aryan’s father said: “We don’t want this accident to be repeated and another family to suffer the pain we are going through.
“Megazone and similar companies need to change how players are grouped… people with similar heights should play together.”
General manager Kimberley Senkbeil-Newley said mixed aged sessions were popular with families and that there were strict rules governing behaviour, including a ban on physical contact and running.
People who breached rules were warned and could be ejected if they did not modify behaviour.
She added that staff had only been obliged to call the emergency services once before during the centre’s 26 years in operation.