Is There a Dangerous Hill at The Preserve in Elk Grove?

Mother Injured After Fall at The Preserve

Questions surrounding the safety of The Preserve, a new Elk Grove park, have arisen after a mother from the region fell fifteen feet and suffered significant injuries.

Details of the Incident

Jolene Ayala, a mother and daycare provider from Elk Grove, had a recent trip to The Preserve take an unfortunate turn when she fell from the top of a hill next to a play area. Ms. Ayala slipped near the top of the grassy hill and fell approximately 15 feet. The fall fractured her leg in three places, which required surgery to stabilize. She now has screws and two metal plates in her legs.  She is calling for a change in the hopes of preventing others from suffering a similar fate.  

The Preserve

The Preserve is a new park located near Elk Grove’s aquatic center. While it has been welcoming visitors for a number of weeks, its grand opening celebration was only this past Saturday, November 6, 2021. 

Watch the YouTube video. Below is a local news story from CBS Sacramento reporting on this incident.

Other Parents React

Other visitors to the park have commented that they could see how the hill, which is quite steep, could be dangerous – especially to small children. 

Ms. Ayala believes that a safety railing at the top of the hill would have prevented her from slipping, and would help prevent future accidents.

The City Reacts

The Office of the City Manager was made aware of the incident and issued a statement that included the information that the playground area had passed a safety inspection conducted by the state. It said that while the park complies with code, the City is nonetheless considering making changes that will address additional safety concerns. Further details about those changes were not included in the statement, nor was a timeline for the completion of those changes. A California Playground Safety certificate was provided by the City of Elk Grove to the media. 

 Independent Inspection

Media outlets have reported that an independent inspection was performed at the park which showed that the hill’s dimensions were within the appropriate limits of height, width, and slope for children aged 2 to 12. Installation of barriers and guardrails around the play equipment is not required. 

Remedial Action After the Incident

Two days after the incident that resulted in injury to Ms. Ayala, a sign was installed at the park with a warning to play with caution.

Was There Negligence by the City?

When a person is injured at a city park, they can generally only recover damages from the city (a government agency) if they are able to prove that the city was negligent in designing, building, or maintaining the property.  This is a tenant of the law relating to premises liability. As is clear by the details released in this story, the City of Elk Grove seems to be asserting that it did everything it was required to do by having the park inspected and complying with the code.

Many people may think that the fact that a caution sign was installed after the recent accident proves that the City has some responsibility for the action. That would not necessarily be the case. Under California law, the installation of such a sign would fall under a legal concept known as a subsequent remedial measure. Under California Evidence Code Section 1151, such an action would not be admissible in court as evidence that there was negligence that led to the injury.

Elk Grove Personal Injury Lawyer

Hello, and thank you for reading our report on The Preserve, a new Elk Grove park. I’m Ed Smith, an Elk Grove personal injury lawyer. There are many questions that arise after a person suffers injury on public property. Our experienced and skilled injury lawyers are available by phone to offer free and friendly advice following any such accident. Our telephone number is (916) 694-0002. We also have a toll-free line for those that may be calling from other regions of Northern California: (800) 404-5400.

Photo by: Vincentas Liskauskas via Unsplash

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