PARKLAND – It’s been one year since Parkland teenager Teagan Marti survived a life-altering accident on a Wisconsin amusement ride. Marti spoke exclusively with CBS4 about her recovery and the support she has received nationwide.
“I am doing good. And I feel good,” Marti told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench.
Marti said that her recovery in the past year “has been hard, very hard;” and she said the hardest thing about the past year has been her physical therapy, which has gone from five days a week to three days a week.
Marti’s story started last July 30th when she plummeted nearly ten stories on a drop ride known as Terminal Velocity in an amusement park just outside Wisconsin Dells.
The attraction, known as a suspended catch air device, lifts riders to the top of four raised towers, At the top, a ride operator unhooks the rider’s harness for a 10-story, back-first, free fall, which ends with the rider landing in a net suspended 40 feet above the ground. From there, the rider is slowly lowered to the ground and then the rider simply walks off the net.
On July 30th, investigators said, the safety net was not in place.
Marti’s mother, Julie, said she fractured her pelvis and spine in several places and need spinal fusion. Fortunately, she suffered no brain damage, her mother said. But the accident caused massive injuries.
Her attorney Stuart Grossman told D’Oench she actually fell 140 feet and hit the ground because nets and air bags for riders were not used.
With a great deal of effort, Marti whispers her short answers to questions through a device around her trachea. She faces more surgery soon on her trachea.
But Teagan, who somehow survived, can move again. D’Oench watched her as she moved around her parents’ living room with a walker. She smiled as she played an electronic game and kept up with summertime school work on line.
“Did you ever think you would make this much progress?” D’Oench asked Marti. “Yeah,” she said as she smiled.
She has received hundreds of letters of support from around the country and photographs from supporters.
“How does that make you feel?” asked D’Oench. “Very happy,” she said.
“What has kept you going?” asked D’Oench. “My family and my friends,” said Marti.
“From where she was and where she is now, I can’t believe it,” said her mother Julie. “She is continuing to get better and better and better. She is a fighter. She wants to get better. She is not giving up. I’m proud of her.”
“Teagan is the most remarkable client I have represented in 40 years,” said family attorney Stuart Grossman. “With the type of trauma she had and the multiple levels of injury, it’s hard to believe how much she has done. She is an amazing human being. She is an angel.”
D’Oench asked Marti, “Your wish is to just move on and get better?” Marti responded, with a smile, “Yes.”
Marti said each day brings hope. “What would you like to say to all of these people who ask about you?” asked D’Oench. “Thank you,” said Marti. “Thank you.”
Marti has something else to look forward to: her 14th birthday on September 4th.
Grossman told D’Oench that he and the family reached a settlement with Extreme World Amusement last October. But the details are confidential and could not be released.
Grossman said he was still pursuing his lawsuit against the German-based company that built the ride.
“There was a negligence,” Grossman told D’Oench. “No doubt about it.”
The ride operator, Charles Carnell, 33, told police he “blanked out” and failed to confirm that a safety net was ready to catch Marti, according to the Lake Delton, Wisconsin police department. Carnell was charged with felony reckless injury.