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“We Thought He Was Dead”

By: Hannah Mitchell

Encounter Staff



Credit: Levin & Perconti from blockclubchicago.org

Recently, the news was released that 8-year-old George Brewer fell 24 feet from a climbing wall at Navy Pier due to a failure by operators to attach the safety rope.


A Michigan family went to Navy Pier for their yearly trip to Chicago. A video taken on July 27th by mother, Erin Brewer, shows her 8-year-old son, George Brewer letting go to be lapeled down from 24 feet in the air after climbing the climbing wall and hitting the timer button…instead hit the concrete pavement after plummeting to the ground due to the lack of the safety rope. Video footage shows parents and family cheering him on in encouragement until he let go and everyone began screaming and panicking as George went fast toward the ground. The video begins moving wildly as mom sprints towards him.


This long fall left George with not only a traumatic experience but several physical injuries. According to blockclubchicago.org, George broke his tibia, pelvis and chin; shattered his femur; suffered a concussion and cracked his teeth. Doctors have told the family their son also suffered possible damage to his growth plates. George has undergone four surgeries with another scheduled in January alongside physical therapy in an attempt to rehabilitate him and nurse him back to health. It was also mentioned that he may need to undergo additional surgeries in the future. According to the Brewer family, George is able to walk with the assistance of a walker after several months of being confined to a wheelchair.


Mother, Erin Brewer shares, “He just dropped. It felt like a nightmare. I kept thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh. This is one of those times where I’m having a horrible dream and I’m going to wake up any second.’... And I did not.” It was also shared that no one came to help out once George hit the ground.


This Michigan family decided on suing Navy Pier in an attempt to bring attention to the importance of protocol and the operator's involvement in children's attractions at Navy Pier. The lawsuit claims the staff at the climbing wall did not check if the auto-belay cable was hooked and locked to the child’s harness before he started climbing.” It also shares that the federal government recommends against using the concrete pavement as the surface below climbing wall attractions and suggests using a mattress or netting.


Gideon Brewer, father of George Brewer, shares in a statement released by his attorneys, “Part of the reason we are filing this lawsuit is to warn other parents who take their children to Navy Pier to beware. Safety and concern for children are clearly not their priorities.”


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