Minor Thoughts from me to you

Lifest's Lack of Responsibility

I'm disappointed in Life Promotions, the organization that organizes the Lifest Festival each summer in Oshkosh, WI. (Full disclosure: I attended Lifest 2007 with my sister.)

Last year and this year, Lifest hosted the "Air Glory" ride at the festival. Air Glory is a bungee-jump type of ride, available for $25 a ride to festival attendees. Unfortunately, a girl died on the ride this year. Fond du Lac Reporter - Girl dies after fall from Air Glory free-fall ride at Lifest

A girl was killed in a fall from the Air Glory ride Saturday afternoon at Lifest.

The victim, who was not immediately identified, was taken to a local hospital, but Lifest officials made an announcement from the Main Stage about 9:35 p.m. that she had died.

The State of Wisconsin licenses all rides that operate in the state. The license is supposed to ensure that the ride is safe and that all operators meet the relevant criteria (being 18 or older). For the past month, state officials have been investigating the ride.

A few days ago, Lifest representatives said that Lifest bore no responsibility for the accident.

Mitch Lautenslager, vice president of operations and programming for Life! Promotions in Oshkosh, last week said the organization had no responsibility to check to see if Air Glory was registered or inspected in Wisconsin before it opened. "Everything we had done with Air Glory, all the homework, showed they had been cleared to go," Lautenslager said. "We didn't have any reason to believe otherwise."

Life! Promotions spokesman Wes Halula said Air Glory also appeared at last year's Lifest. "It's between the state and Air Glory," Halula said. "The onus is on Air Glory to keep up on all that paperwork."

I'm sorry, but I find this attitude unacceptable. Lifest invited Air Glory to appear at the event. Lifest promoted the event to thousands of parents and youth leaders as a fun, safe time. By putting Air Glory into their promotional materials, Lifest gave their stamp of approval to the ride. Like it or not, Lifest bore a responsibility to ensure that the ride was well-maintained, well-run, and -- above all -- safe.

It's not simply a matter of "keep[ing] up on all that paperwork". By it's very nature, state regulation is always going to be a hit or miss affair. Parents trusted Lifest -- not the State of Wisconsin -- to provide a fun, safe atmosphere for their children.

I believe Lifest had their own responsibility to check the ride before promoting it as an integral part of Lifest. That responsibility was a moral one, not a legal one. I would not sue Lifest for failing in that responsibility. Instead, I'll take my own responsible course: I no longer trust Lifest to provide a safe, fun event. I no longer trust Lifest to have executed due diligence before promoting an event.

Until Lifest takes responsibility for what happens at their festival, I will not be attending. My daughter will not be old enough to attend festivals for another 10-12 years. Lifest has that long to earn back my trust and prove that they're willing to do whatever it takes to keep her safe.