Family of boy who died falling from playground slide sues school district

Mar 4, 2024, 4:55 PM

Dallin Cunningham, 8, who died from his injuries after falling off a slide at Rose Springs Elementa...

Dallin Cunningham, 8, who died from his injuries after falling off a slide at Rose Springs Elementary School in Tooele County. (Courtesy: Tim and Katie Cunningham)

(Courtesy: Tim and Katie Cunningham)

ERDA, Tooele County — The parents of an 8-year-old boy who died a year ago after falling off a school playground slide during recess have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the school district.

Timothy and Kathryn Cunningham, the parents of Dallin Cunningham, filed the lawsuit Monday in 3rd District Court against the Tooele County School District.

On Feb. 6, 2023, Dallin was on the playground at Rose Springs Elementary School, 5349 N. Insbrook Place, in Erda, and was playing on a corkscrew-styled slide.

About halfway down the slide, however, the boy fell off the equipment and fell approximately 7 feet, onto the “frozen rock-hard (term used by police) surface below,” according to the lawsuit. Dallin was taken to a local hospital where he died from blunt force trauma to his head.

Dallin’s parents say the district was negligent in allowing such a slide to be on the playground, and for failing “to appropriately maintain the mulch below the slide to serve as an appropriate play surface,” according to the lawsuit, as well as “using a surface for the playground beneath the playground equipment consisting of a dangerous condition of a frozen hard surface rather than a material which would have better absorbed the hard impact of Dallin’s fall.”

The lawsuit also contends the school district is liable for Dallin’s death because it is the owner and designer of the playground that “did not meet generally recognized safety standards,” the lawsuit states. Some of those safety standards that were not met include having a slide with an excessive slope, a lack of guardrails on the side, a lack of high banking “to keep children inside the slide instead of flying out,” and inadequate playground mulch, according to the lawsuit.

The slide has since been removed from the playground.

The lawsuit notes that the school district covered Dallin’s burial expenses, but seeks now to recover the $90,000 in medical bills the family received, as well as other damages to be determined at trial.

The Tooele County School District issued a brief statement Monday afternoon, saying, “due to the open and active litigation, we are unable to provide a comment at this time.”

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Family of boy who died falling from playground slide sues school district