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July 9, 2014

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£400,000 in fines following instructor’s zip wire paralysis

Two companies have been fined £200,000 each after a 21-year-old instructor was paralysed from the waist down on a zip wire ride at Bodyflight in Milton Earnest, Bedfordshire in 2011, after the wire’s braking system was not reset.
Brett Anthony was described as an experienced member of staff who had done the activity hundreds of times. Following the incident he is now in a wheelchair, has suffered a loss of bladder, bowel and sexual function and has had a kidney transplant.
The court heard how the accident happened on the 640ft (200m)-long zip wire known as The Swoop. The wire’s braking mechanism had not been reset and Mr Anthony hit cables and a frame at the bottom, having reached a speed of about 35mph (56km/h) on the way down.
It followed a similar accident earlier the same year, when the braking system had not been reset and a girl had to be caught at the bottom by an instructor.
The prosecution said Bedford Borough Council had told the companies to carry out a proper risk assessment following the first incident, but that had not happened.
Judge Phillip Bartlett said: “[Mr Anthony] was an active 20-year-old who enjoyed sport. He cannot live the life he led before the accident. 
“He cannot have an intimate relationship.
“I am satisfied that the defendants were reckless and not merely careless.”
Bodyflight and Mr Anthony’s employer, Flowhouse (Bedford) Ltd, had admitted three health and safety offences. The companies were both fined £200,000 with costs of £32,878 each. 

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