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Amputee denied ride sues park

A prosthesis maker's U.S. discrimination suit comes days after a girl athlete bashed the theme park over the issue.

By JENNIFER LIBERTO
Published July 23, 2005


TAMPA - Busch Gardens is again under attack for banning an amputee from a ride.

But instead of an 8-year-old tourist, the park is facing a formal discrimination lawsuit filed by a businessman who creates and sells prostheses.

In the federal suit filed Friday, Cary Frounfelter of St. Pete Beach said a Busch Gardens employee made him dismount a roller coaster last July because of his prosthetic right leg. He is suing the theme park under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

On Monday, Busch Gardens employees denied ride access to Jessica Rogers of Springfield, Va., an amputee athlete in town for the National Junior Disability Championships.

Busch Gardens spokesman Gerard Hoeppner said he couldn't comment about Frounfelter's lawsuit. However, he said theme park employees are always looking out for visitors' safety.

"We care too much about our guests and their safety to ever compromise guidelines ... to ensure their visit with us, and enjoyment of our attractions, is as safe as it can be," Hoeppner said.

Frounfelter owns a Largo store that specializes in building and selling prosthetic legs, like the waterproof leg Frounfelter wore to Busch Gardens last year - strong enough to support 500 pounds.

Frounfelter had just been strapped into the Montu roller coaster with his then-10-year-old daughter when he was ordered off the ride.

The Montu makes several large inverted loops at speeds that surpass 60 mph. Riders are harnessed into seats with legs dangling freely.

Frounfelter is also claiming the theme park inflicted "emotional damages" on his daughter. She had to ride the roller coaster alone, because the employee would not allow her to get off the ride with her father.

The suit states that the employee "sent the ride off with her crying for her father despite the fact that she had, in the past, only ridden Montu with her father by her side."

Frounfelter's attorney declined to comment and Frounfelter couldn't be reached late Friday.

In 2002, Frounfelter told the Times he lost his leg in a car accident as a 20-year-old University of Florida student.

His first prosthetic leg was awful, which inspired him to start his own company designing, crafting and fitting other amputees with better artificial legs.

Frounfelter is seeking unspecified damages and attorney fees, as well as an injunction to prevent Busch Gardens from banning amputees from rides.

[Last modified July 23, 2005, 00:52:10]


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