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Local News

Haunted Trails owner denies fault in teacup ride injury

The owner of Haunted Trails disputes his place is to blame for injuries a teenage girl suffered when she allegedly was tossed out of the Bone Shaker ride at the company’s Joliet location.

Ashley Brouk, of Farmington, Missouri, who was 14 when the incident occurred Sept. 29, has filed a lawsuit against Haunted Trails that claims she was thrown out of a Bone Shaker teacup car and then struck by another teacup car.

Brouk’s lawsuit further claims that the ride operator refused to stop the Bone Shaker. Brouk’s attorney, John Kolb, said Brouk suffered head injuries, scars on the front and back of her head, memory loss and migraines as a result of the incident.

The Bone Shaker ride is one of the biggest rides inside North Broadway amusement center Haunted Trails.

The ride has several teacup cars with skeleton and bone icons. The centerpiece of the ride is giant ghost statue. One sign posted nearby says, “Ride at your own risk,” and another sign requires that children younger than age 5 must be accompanied by an adult.

Frank Sikora, the owner of Haunted Trails, said the Bone Shaker is not dangerous and has never caused any serious injuries.

Sikora claimed that there were witnesses who saw Brouk fall out after she stood up during the ride after she was told to sit down and that her uncle, who was riding with her, spun their teacup car excessively. Sikora claimed that the uncle admitted he was at fault for the incident. Haunted Trails’ insurance company investigated the incident and determined the park had no liability, he said.

“We’ve been around a long time. … We’ve got a very good safety record, and we’re there for the community,” Sikora said.

The amusement center began as a small arcade and miniature golf facility in 1988 and evolved into a 14-acre indoor-outdoor complex accommodating group events of up to more than
2,000 guests, according to its website. Haunted Trails’ attractions include an 18-hole miniature golf course, two go-kart tracks, batting cages, rides, game rooms, restaurants and party rooms.

The Bone Shaker has been part of Haunted Trails since it opened, said Jeremy Sikora, Frank Sikora’s son and manager of the Joliet location.

“All the little kids go on it. It’s not dangerous,” Sikora said.

Kolb disagrees. He argued that the ride has no safety restraint system and nothing to keep occupants in place, as the enclosure space in the ride is low. He said there also were no warning signs as to the speed of cars.

“They did not shut down the ride when people in that teacup were screaming to stop the ride,” Kolb said.

Brouk’s stepfather allegedly yelled to the ride operator to turn off the Bone Shaker, but the operator refused, which caused Brouk to be further tossed around the ride.

Kolb said he believes Brouk’s stepfather was outside the ride, and her uncle was riding with her in the teacup car.

Kolb argued that Haunted Trails’ insurance company is not a jury and that they have a financial interest in finding no responsibility on the part of the owner. He argued the insurance company is “not a reliable source of assessment.”

Brouk’s lawsuit accuses Haunted Trails of failing to safely operate the Bone Shaker ride. The company allegedly failed to properly inspect the ride for dangerous conditions, fix dangerous conditions and warn people of the danger posed by the ride, according to the lawsuit.

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