This case involves a group of teenagers who visited a haunted house exhibit in Massachusetts. The exhibit was a large installation constructed inside a warehouse. The installation had a long-standing reputation for being an incredibly scary and successful seasonal attraction. Several actors were employed inside to scare the visitors and usher them through the house without getting lost. When the teenagers entered the house, the group was too large for the actors to grab each one of the group members. At this point, the teenagers were ushered into the next portion of the house and a boy 14 years of age became separated from the group. The house was very dark and he became disoriented and lost inside. He decided to try to find his way to the exit through the dark. The boy opened a door and found he had entered a different part of the warehouse. He walked in the dark toward a distant exit sign and tripped over materials that had been left on the floor. The boy fell, breaking his arm and shattering his kneecap. It was alleged that the haunted house attraction should have had additional barriers and employee supervision to prevent accidents from occurring.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please describe your background in amusement design and/or management.
- 2. What safety protocols/procedures should be in place to prevent injury during such events?
Expert Witness Response E-136645
With 24+ years of attraction management experience, I am very familiar with the safety standards that should be put into place for a large attraction. There are standard operating procedures that are employed in haunted attractions (see the ATSA standards and the National Fire Code). If there is an egress corridor, there needs to be a certain number of lumens per square foot and the area needs to be relatively well lit. In this case, it sounds like this did not happen. There is a fall risk in any warehouse setting, so the attraction needs to have some sort of barrier, such as caution tape, to alert the individual. In any haunted attraction, the staff are the best defense. Haunted attractions generally use closed-circuit security cameras and have a thorough security system. I am really surprised that she could get in such a compromised position.