On February 19, 2018, Nicole Trakimas says she was in the best shape of her life. An avid runner and dedicated yogi, the Santa Monica resident was in San Diego last year visiting her brother when he suggested they take her nephew to Altitude Trampoline Park in the city of Vista.
There, Trakimas engaged her brother on the “battle beam,” trying to knock him off while keeping her balance. But when she lost her footing and fell into the foam pit beneath, as countless other jumpers had done, she immediately knew something was wrong.
“Unbeknownst to me, I didn’t know how shallow it was,” Trakimas said. “My leg went straight down to the bottom and hit the concrete.”
Surveillance footage obtained by NBC 7 Investigates shows Trakimas' fall into the pit at the Altitude Trampoline Park. Watch the footage below.
She didn’t know it at the time but Trakimas had broken her talus bone, holding her foot and ankle together. After surgeries and months of rehab, Trakimas fears she will never be able to run properly or practice yoga again, all because of an alleged design flaw underneath the foam pit at the park.
In the last few years, emergency room visits caused by injuries at trampoline parks have skyrocketed. In 2013, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were 2,500 ER visits nationwide. By the end of 2018, that number jumped to more than 19,000 visits -- including Trakimas' case.
“It was just a pain that I've never experienced before,” Trakimas said. “I’m still in physical therapy, I probably will always be.”
Trakimas is now suing Altitude Trampoline Park for negligence, saying the foam pit adjacent to the battle beam was too shallow. According to her lawsuit, the trampoline park’s foam pit design does not follow basic industry safety standards, recommending foam pits be at least five feet deep. Trakimas' attorneys found the Vista pit she fell into was less than three feet deep.
In addition, the foam pit was supposed to have a trampoline bottom, which Trakimas says was advertised on its website. But the pit she fell into had a concrete floor.
“They led me into this false sense of security. I felt comfortable jumping into this pit. Had I known what was really there, that there was concrete and that the pit was so shallow, I never would have gone in it.”
Data obtained through a public record request from the Vista Fire Department show since January 1, 2018, 12 people, including Nicole, suffered what firefighters labeled "traumatic injuries" at Altitude in Vista.
In response to the lawsuit, Altitude denied her allegations and any wrongdoing in regard to the design of the park in Vista.
An employee of the company sent NBC 7 Investigates an email stating, "The safety of our guests is of the utmost importance to us, however, the incident is still in the litigation process and we are unable to provide a comment."
The Executive Vice President for the International Association of Trampoline Parks estimates there are 850 trampoline parks across the United States and only a handful of states regulate trampoline parks. California isn’t one of them. Proposed legislation to regulate them failed to pass in 2014.
Meanwhile, Nicole Trakimas and her attorneys say no changes were made at the Altitude Park in Vista as a result of her fall.
“Their response was that their park is safe and that they don't need to make any changes,” Trakimas said. “I'm going to have to live with this for the rest of my life and it's a daily struggle. I don't want it to happen anybody else.”