Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Hide and seek news.........

Curiosity is a universal thing at times, it's human nature. What so many are curious about lately, it seems, is what Kaitlyn Lasitter looks like. I can say that I have seen a photo of her on two occasions and no, I don't know her or her family personally.

I saw it when I was researching for updates on my original post about the recent amusement park accidents. They had just released her identification and while on the website for July 2, WHAS11, News for Louisville KY, I spotted it. In the lefthand sidebar of a short story mentioning her former softball team and coach was a small picture of a young girl in a baseball cap with no caption. I assumed that was Kaitlyn, probably more than a year ago and that WHAS11 had gotten it from a source who knew her when she was playing softball. I don't generally post photos but I will link to a site that has them available, which is what I had done in this case.

I assumed that the photograph would receive national coverage and thought nothing of it until several days later.... it hadn't been released to the general media. At that point I felt I would go back to the story and post a direct link noting that the photo was there. I went back to that story and noticed that the picture had been removed.... again I made an assumption. I thought that they had removed the picture out of respect for Kaitlyn and her family's wish for privacy, which is admirable and fair I felt.

I was more than surprised when I again saw the same picture on a page of WHAS11 on July 7th, this time it accompanied another story of theirs. The story involved an interview Andy Treinen had with Dr Michael Moskal, an orthopedic surgeon, on what Kaitlyn's surgery "may" have entailed and her recovery "may" entail. I then spent the better part of more than four hours on their less-than-user-friendly website trying to find the picture again. Using their archive search brought no results as it claims there is no photo on file, no matter how you spell her last name or how you term "picture." Strange that they don't have a picture they feel free to link to any reporting remotely related to her, unless they have purposely left it untitled in their archive to keep it for their own exclusive sensationalism.

The problem I have now is in what WHAS11 is using the picture for. If they indeed have an exclusive right to that photo of Kaitlyn, then it is theirs to use as they wish. I do feel that if they are using it on their site repeatedly, then it is news and therefore, should be made available to those who search their site and all other media sources who request it. If that isn't their intention though, sharing legitimate news, then they should cease from any use of the picture and wait with the rest of the nation until another picture of her is released for all to view. I don't know though, if the other media sources did have access to that photo and chose not to use it out of respect and WHAS11 has chosen instead to continue using it.

For my earlier post "When the thrill bites back" , with updates, go here.

Update: posted July 14 with picture

The parents of Kaitlyn Lasitter, Randall and Monique, have filed a lawsuit in Jefferson Circuit Court KY in regards to the June 21 accident that severely injured their daughter. They are seeking an unspecified amount of punitive and compensitory damages as well as a jury trial. The lawsuit also asks that a judge issue a temporary injunction to stop the park from altering or destroying the "Superman Tower of Power" ride or the cable that tore loose and injured Kaitlyn.

The lawsuit alleges that Kentucky Kingdom was negligent in inspecting, testing, maintaining and operating the Superman Tower of Power ride, which is also known as the Hellavator. It also alleges that the theme park was careless in "operating a dangerous ride at high speeds." According to the lawsuit, Kaitlyn has suffered permanent injury, severe emotional pain and her ability to earn money has been impaired. It also requested damages for the emotional pain Kaitlyn's parents have endured as well as money to care for their daughter during her recovery and "well being for the rest of their lives."

Caroln McLean, a spokeswoman for the theme park, said that she has not seen the lawsuit and could not comment. However, McLean said that the ride is shut down and "will continue to be shut down until we decide what to do with it" after the investigation is complete.

The lawfirm of Franklin and Hance PSC, in Louisville, which is representing the Lasitters, released the following statement:

"Randy, Monique and Kaitlyn are a wonderful family who are living through a horrible tragedy. They need time to try and heal. Please respect their privacy. This case is about Kaitlyn and her family, not about lawyers."

Also released was a statement from Brendan Culliton, of Crestwood who was at the park and witnessed the cable break. He stated he heard a cable break as the ride was rising and he saw it wrapped around Kaitlyn's legs on the way down. He also called 911 to report that he saw the cable wrapped around her leg. It almost ripped her out of the ride, according to Louisville MetroSafe Communications dispatch tapes. Other audio tapes from the frantic calls at 4:59 pm were released to the AP.

Ken Martin, an amusement park ride safety consultant based in Richmond VA, said yesterday that the ride should not have been designed with exposed cables. The whip of the cable could have been restricted if it were encased in steel or another metal. There is no federal oversight of fixed amusement rides and limited oversight of pertable ones, such as those found at various fairs. It is left up to the Department of Argriculture Office of Consumer and Environmental Protection to inspect them before the parks open.

"The same people who inspected this ride are investigating the accident on this ride," he stated.

Martin believes that this causes a conflict of interest, whether it is intentional or unintentional without oversight from another agency.
This is a horrific accident to have such a young girl suffer and it will affect her entire life. I feel that Kaitlyn should be afforded every opportunity for the best medical and rehabilitative care available. I don't understand though, how her family can seek money for the "well being for the rest of their lives".

Life will never be what Kaitlyn may have imagined for herself but it doesn't mean that it will stop for her either unless that is her choice. As evidenced by my earlier posts, Oscar Pistorius, 20, of South Africa, will be running this weekend against Olympic class runners in another step towards his dream of running in the Olympics. Oscar, has not let having lost both his legs below the knee stop him from being as able-bodied as he possibly can be........ for the moment, it is only regulations that stand in his way, not the speed that he runs through life at.

Special thanks to the Courier-Journal, Louisville KY for the yearbook picture of Kaitlyn, published 7/14/2007.
Update: posted July 15

Kaitlyn Lasitter has been discharged from Vanderbilt University Medical Center on Saturday, July 14. According to John Howser, spokesman for the hospital, this is just the first stage on her long road to recovery and that Kaitlyn and her family face many more challenges ahead.

He declined to comment on where Kaitlyn will go next for further treatment and rehabilitation out of a continued respect for their privacy. He did state that someone who has suffered an injury such as hers will need additional care such as occupational therapy or additional surgeries.

Spokewoman Carolyn McLean has said that representatives from the park have tried to contact the Lasitter several times during her stay at Vanderbilt and will renew those attempts now that she has been released. Kentucky Kingdom has refused to comment on the lawsuit that has been filed against them.

Update: posted July 27

Kaitlyn's parents have released a statement saying that their daughter is facing more surgery on her left leg due to complications that have developed. They said that they are expecting it to be a very long recovery and they are still not sure if she will keep the right foot that has been reattached. They said that Kaitlyn's physical and emotional pain is unimaginable.

For a complete copy of their statement, go here.

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