Lawsuit filed after shocking video shows boy falling from climbing wall at Navy Pier

The family of an 8-year-old boy who was seriously injured after falling off a climbing wall at Navy Pier is now suing the Chicago tourist attraction.

Erin and Gideon Brewer filed the 10-count lawsuit against Navy Pier Tuesday, alleging that it failed to follow basic safety protocols.

The Brewer Family is from Grand Rapids, and visited Navy Pier on July 27.

According to the lawsuit, the 8-year-old boy, George, and his brothers were climbing the wall. His younger brothers went first with no issues. When it was George's turn, the attendant allegedly put the harness on him, but did not attach the safety rope.


"We thought that he was dead, and I felt what it felt like to lose a child," said Erin Brewer, George’s mother. "I felt like our life was completely over. I felt like his brother's lives were over — they had just watched this happen."

The lawsuit filed in Cook County Tuesday afternoon by the family’s attorney with Levin & Perconti says the attendant told George to press the button to start the timer and go. After reaching the top of the wall, George fell 24-feet to the ground because there was no safety rope to allow him to descend safely and slowly, the family said.

His mother recorded the incident as it happened.

"I will never forget the horror of my son hitting the ground so hard with no protection. Within seconds, a beautiful family day turned into our worst nightmare. Little did we know that as we encouraged our son to climb to the top of the wall, that he was going to fall off and nearly die," said Brewer. "Our family is traumatized by this."

The lawsuit claims there was no netting or cushion, and he slammed directly onto the concrete pavement.


George suffered severe injuries, including a broken left femur, tibia, pelvis and chin. The second-grader has undergone four surgeries to date, and will have another one in January.

George stayed at Lurie's Children's Hospital intensive care unit for a week. He was confined to a wheelchair for months, and is now using a walker while he receives physical therapy.

According to the lawsuit, when George fell, the employees stood around. Bystanders were the ones who called 911.

The lawsuit also claims that Navy Pier did not reach out to the family to see how George was doing.

In the incident report, a manager wrote: "a child began climbing the wall without the rope being attached to the harness." And a worker explained they were stopping another child from approaching the wall when, "the harnessed guest was not told to climb yet and had gone up unattended."

Megan O’Connor, a partner with Levin & Perconti and the family’s attorney, says otherwise.

"An attendant walks up, threw a harness on him and told George to hit the buzzer," said O’Connor. "Hit the buzzer was kind of code for a while to start the timer, so you can start climbing a wall."

The family says they are suing in order to share their story with other parents.

"We trusted Navy Pier to operate the climbing wall safely and care about our kids. It is a major tourist attraction, and we thought it was reputable," said Gideon Brewer, George’s father. "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."

Two employees who were operating the climbing wall and Spectrum Sports are also named as defendants in the suit.

Navy Pier’s spokesperson told FOX 32 Chicago about this incident: "We have not seen a lawsuit. It is our standard practice not to comment on litigation."