WINDSOR, Ont. — The family of a southern Ontario teen who suffered severe brain injuries during gym class wants to know who is responsible for the horrific incident that may have left the girl with long-term health problems, their lawyer said Thursday.
Fourteen-year-old Madison Arseneault was injured last Wednesday while running with her Grade 8 gym class at the Ford Test Track in Windsor, Ont., which is operated by the city, Jennifer Bezaire said.
The city had set up sawed-off golf clubs connected by a low-lying wire as guides for crews painting white lines on the grass, and when Arseneault tripped over the wire, "the blunt end of the golf club impaled her skull and went into her brain," she said.
Bezaire said the teen is in a London, Ont., hospital with "extensive" injuries and will likely be sent to a rehabilitation facility in Toronto once she has sufficiently healed.
"She'll likely have some long-term injuries. Right now, it's still pretty early — it's only been a week since this happened — so hopefully as the swelling in her brain goes down, she'll recover more functioning," the lawyer said.
"There may be some paralysis, there may be some memory issues as well," she said.
Arseneault's family has been at her bedside since the incident, Bezaire said.
"It obviously is a very difficult ordeal. It really is a parent's worst nightmare to send your child off to school and end up finding her in hospital," she said.
"They are definitely struggling, they are getting through this the best way they know how, which is sitting at her bedside," she said.
As they wait for Arseneault to recover, they are also seeking answers about what happened to her, said Bezaire, who is asking anyone who witnessed the incident or saw city staff set up the clubs to get in touch with her.
"We're trying to figure out what happened, how those golf clubs ended up unattended on the Ford Test Track," she said, adding the family may file a lawsuit once they have more information.
"It is a really strange incident," she said. "It seems the wire that was connecting these golf clubs was taut and created essentially a slingshot effect and so when she tripped on the wire it caused the golf club to pull up from the ground and impale her skull."
Arseneault's school has been "incredibly loving and supportive" in the wake of the incident, she said, noting some of the teen's classmates likely saw it happen.
Jason Moore, a spokesman for the City of Windsor, expressed sympathy for Arseneault and her family, calling the incident a "tragic case." But he declined to comment further, citing possible legal action.
-by Paola Loriggio in Toronto