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8-year-old died after flying from school slide 7 feet above ‘frozen’ ground, Utah suit says

(Rose Springs Elementary School/Facebook)

Eight-year-old Dallin Cunningham was playing at his Utah elementary school’s playground last February when he took a turn on the slide.

As he came down the Rose Springs Elementary School corkscrew slide, he “flew out” 7 feet above ground, according to a wrongful death lawsuit filed Monday, March 4.

Dallin landed on a “frozen rock-hard” ground and later died at a hospital from blunt force trauma to his head, the suit says.

Now, his parents are suing the Tooele County School District for negligence, seeking coverage for Dallin’s medical expenses.

In a statement emailed to McClatchy News, the district said it was not able to comment “due to the open and active litigation.”

Inadequate cushioning

Dallin’s parents allege the district was negligent in both not properly supervising the use of playground equipment, as well as allowing “unreasonably dangerous” conditions on the playground, the suit says.

In addition to the circular slide being “excessively fast and steep” and lacking guardrails, the lawsuit also says there was not enough mulch “below the slide in freezing temperatures” to absorb “the hard impact of Dallin’s fall.”

Per standards, there should have been 12 inches of mulch filling the area below the slide with the potential of that mulch compressing to a minimum of 9 inches, the lawsuit says.

The mulch at Rose Springs Elementary School measured about “1 inch in depth before being frozen solid underneath,” the suit says, adding that it’s unclear if the playground ever had enough mulch for adequately safe cushioning.

All these factors led to Dallin’s death, the lawsuit says.

While the suit says the district covered Dallin’s burial expenses, his parents are seeking coverage of his medical expenses, totaling about $90,000, as well as any other damages determined at trial.

‘Rambunctious little 8-year-old’

Dallin, a “rambunctious little 8-year-old,” loved video games, Star Wars and board games, a GoFundMe for the family says.

He was outgoing and never struggled to make friends, according to his obituary. As part of a military family, he lived in a number of states before his 7th birthday, including California, Virginia and Nevada.

“We are heartbroken,” his family wrote. “We will miss his smiles, hugs, cuddles, jokes, playful spirit and his amazing mind.”

Rose Springs Elementary School is in Erda, about 25 miles southwest of Salt Lake City.


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