Ocean Park, Hong Kong’s popular marine-themed tourist attraction, has rejected accusations that it sought to keep a child-related escalator accident under wraps by paying hush money to the victim’s family.
The company denied that it asked the family of a three-year-old boy who suffered serious injury at the park to sign a confidentiality agreement in return for HK$100,000 (US$12,890) in compensation.
The money was offered to help the family pay for emergency medical care for the boy, it said, refuting charges that it was hush money, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
Even with the payout, the toddler’s family can still file for compensation through a lawsuit, it said.
However, it added that it cannot be held responsible for the accident as a maintenance contractor has confirmed that there was nothing wrong with the escalator when the accident happened.
The comments came after the child’s grandfather, a man surnamed Choy, accused Ocean Park of wanting to settle in private a dispute regarding an escalator accident last year.
In September, Choy’s grandson saw his left foot getting caught in an escalator at the park, crushing his toes.
Doctors had to amputate one of the child’s toes following the accident, which took place when the 3-year-old was taken to the park by his mother and grandpa.
Choy said his grandson’s foot was trapped in the gap between the steps and side panel of a 220-meter downward escalator they were taking.
As the escalator failed to stop automatically, the toddler’s mother rushed to pull his foot out before having him sent to hospital.
Three toes were found seriously injured, with one of them needing amputation due to tissue necrosis.
Choy said Ocean Park offered HK$100,000 afterwards on the condition that the family must not make the incident public.
However, the family refused the offer, saying the park should have apologized and also paid proper damages.
In January and May this year, family members, accompanied by some lawmakers, went for meetings with park representatives and officials from the government’s Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) to discuss the issue.
The EMSD said after checking footage from security cameras that the incident did not involve any mechanical malfunction.
It asked the park to step up educational campaigns to the public with regard to the correct use of the outdoor escalator, which is the second longest of its kind worldwide.
[Chinese version 中文版]
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