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2 Investigators Expose Trampoline Dangers

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Indoor trampoline parks are all the rage on the West Coast and six months ago, a company called Xtreme Trampolines opened the first trampoline center here, in Carol Stream.

Kids and adults make it look easy and fun. But not everyone is having a good time, as CBS 2's Pam Zekman reports.

There are serious concerns over safety issues at Xtreme Trampolines.

In the past six months there have been sixteen calls to the 911 center for an ambulance after injuries at Xtreme Trampolines. One came from a mother who told the 911 operator, "my daughter...she fell directly on her neck, tingling in her arms, severe pain and she's having trouble breathing."

Another call was made after 21-year-old Brett Kromeich did a front flip and fell on his landing that was videotaped by a friend.

"The tension from the tramp when it snapped back up snapped my leg completely in two, with the bone coming out the side of my leg."

He required surgery to repair the damage, but five months later Kromeich still walks with a limp. "The doctors say they don't know if it will ever go away," Kromeich said.

Erik Beck, the owner of Xtreme Trampolines said, "We've had 100,000 kids come through here so there are going to be injuries. I wish I could stop every one of them but there's an inherent risk to jumping on trampolines."

Beck says each customer must watch a safety video that includes house rules against sitting on a trampoline, more than one person on a trampoline, and "no double jumping."

But when the 2-investigators visited Xtreme Trampolines on a recent Saturday afternoon, our undercover camera recorded staff ignoring customers who were violating the rules. One kid is seen sitting on the trampoline while others jumped around. Another shot shows kids double jumping right in front of a staff member.

"I saw a supervisor walking right by and not do anything," Zekman told Beck. "They should have stopped it?"

"They should have stopped it absolutely," Beck replied.

There are no government safety regulations for trampoline centers. Critics say there should be.

Mark Sohn, a former champion gymnast who has visited Xtreme Trampolines, says "It's not a matter of if, but when we are going to have a catastrophic accident."

And Don McPherson, a gymnastics instructor, has also studied the Xtreme Trampolines operation. "They are not enforcing their own rules and the rules they have are woefully insufficient," McPherson said.

For example, customers are allowed to jump head-first into a foam-filled pit.

That's dangerous at any facility, says Dr. Kristine Cieslick, an emergency room doctor at Central DuPage Hospital, where customers from Xtreme Trampoline have been taken for treatment.

"Depending on how deep it is, you could actually hit the bottom if the foam isn't fluffed up properly," Cieslick said. "You could have a head injury, you could have a neck injury."

Asked why he does not have a rule against it, the owner of Xtreme Trampolines responded, "Yeah, we probably should have that rule."

But Beck says trampolining at his facility is safer than most other sports. He claims that only 2 out of 1,000 customers get injured.

Beck is now trying to open a second facility in Buffalo Grove. He says those that oppose him are either trying to prevent competition or are trying to impose unnecessary gymnastics training standards on a recreational facility.

A similar business is also planning on opening trampoline parks in Niles and Naperville this year. It has a number of personal injury law suits on the West Coast.

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