YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Injured Boy's Parents to Aid Ride-Safety Investigators

Officials hadn't yet pressed for their cooperation because of Brandon Zucker's condition after the Disneyland accident.


The parents of Brandon Zucker, the 4 1/2-year-old boy critically injured on Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin in Disneyland three weeks ago, have agreed to participate in a state investigation to help protect all children on amusement park rides, their attorney said Thursday.

"They are the type of people who want to cooperate with the state to help other children out there," said Thomas V. Girardi, a prominent Los Angeles attorney.

The Zuckers will likely meet with state inspectors in the next couple of weeks, Girardi said.

Investigators are working on the logistics for the meeting, said Richard Stephens, spokesman for the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health, which is conducting the inquiry into the accident. State officials have not demanded a meeting before now out of respect for family members, who are focused on the boy's medical condition.

Stephens said investigators also are still waiting for Disneyland to forward its reports on the accident.

Disneyland spokesman Ray Gomez said Thursday that the park would provide "all relevant information" to the state.

"We are committed to cooperating fully with them and we intend to do that," Gomez said. "If a report hasn't been provided, then it will."

Brandon is still in a coma at UCI Medical Center in Orange. He is on a ventilator, although he can breathe on his own. The 45-pound boy suffered a torn liver, spleen and diaphragm, a collapsed left lung and a fractured pelvis in the Sept. 22 accident.

UCI Medical Center spokeswoman Kim Pine said the family has asked that doctors no longer release details on the boy's condition. Previously, hospital officials said they would continue to reduce the boy's medication, which would allow them to gauge his brain activity. But Pine would not discuss whether that was done or what the results so far might have been.

"He's in critical condition, but we're no longer at liberty right now to talk about any more details," Pine said.

David and Victoria Zucker, who live in Canyon Country in northern Los Angeles County, are holding onto hope that their son will recover, Girardi said. They are keeping a constant vigil at the boy's bedside in the pediatric intensive care unit.

"This is a very prayerful and thoughtful family," Girardi said. "I think they have an awful lot of trust and faith that this thing will turn out OK."

Brandon's grandmother, Jeane Kurland, echoed that sentiment, saying, "All we can do is pray."

Kurland, who lives in Delray Beach, Fla., was riding in the car immediately behind the one that Brandon spilled from just a minute into the twirling ride.

"I don't know how it happened," she said. "I don't know at all. . . . He was an active, adorable child who loved to draw and play with his cars and build with blocks."

Girardi has argued several cases that resulted in large payments to his clients, including one against Lockheed and five oil and chemical companies accused of failing to adequately warn workers of the dangers of chemicals they used at Lockheed's Burbank facilities.

The lawyer also helped win a $333-million settlement in a toxic pollution lawsuit against Pacific Gas & Electric Co. in Hinkley, Calif.--the case made famous by Julia Roberts in the film "Erin Brockovich."

Of his latest case, Girardi said, "A risk of serious injury should not be part of simply going out with your child to have a nice day."

But the family hasn't even begun to consider legal action against Disneyland, he said. "That is not their focus right now. These are wonderful people who have been devastated by this. And nothing else matters other than the [condition] of their little boy."

Los Angeles Times Articles