[Update: The family of the boy killed will get a $1.25 million settlement and a scholarship in his name as part of a settlement with Westchester County, the operators of Playland. LoHud has this story.]
A Playland accident in 2005 that resulted in the death of a 7 year old boy should never have happened, according to Joseph Montalto, the park director at the time. The comment was made during court proceedings, according to this account from Jim Fitzgerald of the Associated Press:
"A Playland amusement park boat ride was understaffed and should not have been open when a 7-year-old boy died there four years ago, the park's then-director testified Thursday.
Joseph Montalto was the first witness to testify in a lawsuit the boy's parents brought against Westchester County, which owns the landmark park, featured in the 1988 Tom Hanks film "Big."
Montalto said park policy called for at least three workers on Ye Old Mill, in which boats move gently in the dark through scenes populated by gnomes and trolls. There were only two workers when Jon-Kely Cassara of Norwalk, Conn., boarded, late in the afternoon on Aug. 3, 2005.
Montalto also said only one of the two workers operating the ride was licensed to do so.
"They should not have been operating the ride with two people," he told Marvin Salenger, the plaintiffs' lawyer. And he acknowledged saying in a 2007 deposition that "Jon-Kely Cassara should not have been permitted to be on that ride."
Salenger suggested in his opening statement to the jury that Jon-Kely became frightened during the ride "and didn't know how to get out." He alleged a string of failures by county workers, saying they were slow to respond to the concern of Jon-Kely's mother and had not been trained to turn off the ride in an emergency.
Losing a child "is doubly horrible when your child is taken away from you by somebody else's negligence," he said.
The boy's mother, Elayne Cassara, hid her face in her hands through much of the testimony.
The county's lawyer, Stuart Kahan, acknowledged there were problems at Playland, but he said they were not responsible for the boy's death.
"The decision to get out of that boat was Jon-Kely Cassara's decision," he told jurors. He noted that the boy was a foot taller than the ride's height requirement and could read the signs that warned against getting out of the boat.
The 80-year-old ride had never had a fatality before, he said.
Two other people have been killed at Playland in recent years, on a ride called "Mind Scrambler" that has since been dismantled…"