Part of being 12 years old is learning the boundaries of where fun ends and serious danger begins. One particular south Oak Park 12 year old is enduring a hard lesson in that distinction after falling and breaking his arm in three places while riding a bike down the new Barrie Park sledding hill Saturday afternoon.
The boy, whose father asked to remain anonymous, had set up a skate board ramp at the bottom of the sledding hill around 1:30 Saturday afternoon. He then rode his bike down the hill and onto the ramp. That's where the fun ended.
"He landed on top of his arm," said the boy's father. An orthopedist was able to set the three breaks and stabilize the bone without surgery?#34;at least for now. The arm will be x-rayed weekly for the next three weeks, and if the bone stays in position, it should heal properly.
The father stressed that he viewed the incident as a safety issue rather than one of park district liability. While he's concerned for his son, he also expressed concern that the park district could be forced to further restrict the opportunities for kids to have fun out of concern for legal liability.
"In this culture we have now, it's a worry of mine that the park district can be liable for anything," said the father.
Park district Executive Director Gary Balling said Tuesday that while the district wants kids to have ample opportunities for "creative recreation," there were limits to what was acceptable.
"Certainly, if we'd have seen that, we would not have allowed it," he said of both riding a bike down the sled hill and the placement of the ramp at the bottom. The district, he added, does not allow people to bring in any outside apparatus such as skate board ramps into its parks.
Kids being kids, Balling acknowledged that the district has to keep an eye out for potential dangers.
"What we need to do is constantly monitor things," he said.
The injured boy's father hopes that other children will take personal safety into account when playing in the parks.
"I do want the (other) kids to know how dangerous this can be," he said of riding a bike down the hill. "You build up such speed."