Over 100 tourists say they were injured on the same water slide inside Universal Orlando’s Volcano Bay that allegedly left a New York man paralyzed from the neck down last year, court documents show.
James Bowen claimed he was riding Universal's Punga Racers water slide in July of 2019 when he allegedly hit a wall of water as he exited the slide into the wading pool, causing his "neck to violently snap back, leaving him face down in the water and unable to move," court documents show.
The suit also alleges that "If not for the heroic actions of his middle daughter and his wife, Mr. Bowen would have drowned that day."
However, new court documents regarding the ongoing suit indicated that roughly 115 other guests suffered injuries on the same water slide, according to the Orlando Sentinel, which obtained a copy of the now-sealed documents. The suit also claims that two ride safety testers were injured.
According to the suit, the injuries ranged from scrapes or nosebleeds to concussion or neck whiplash after patrons rode down the water slide headfirst on mats into the catch pools. The injuries occurred "primarily" in 2017 and 2019, according to the suit.
The documents were publicly viewable on the Orange Circuit Court website until a judge ordered them to be sealed.
“As Universal works to reopen its parks by reassuring the public that the company takes safety seriously, these documents prove otherwise," Bowen's attorney, David Buckner, wrote in a June 23 filing, according to the outlet. "And that is the real reason Universal is desperate to conceal them."
Since the ride opened in 2017, the state was only made aware of one serious injury related to the water slide, which was Bowen's case, the outlet reported.
Schroder said the company will immediately begin an investigation and review "when there is an injury of any kind" and that Universal has a "rigorous and detailed process in place" to help resolve any issues.
"More than 1.5 million guests have experienced this ride, with the overwhelming majority of those guests having a safe and enjoyable experience without incident," Universal spokesperson Tom Schroder told FOX Business. "That said, we take guest injuries seriously. We have a safety-first culture that places the safety of our guests and team members above everything else. "
“He was paralyzed while riding a water slide at Universal’s Volcano Bay in a way that Universal could absolutely foresee because during testing for the ride before it opened up, a test rider was injured in the exact same way, and they decided to open the ride anyway,” Buckner said during an April 28 court hearing, according to the outlet, which cited transcripts.
Bowen is now seeking more than $15,000 in punitive and other damages, the Sentinel reported.
Buckner declined further comment.
An earlier version of this story was updated to include a statement from Universal.