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Family says amusement park discriminated against daughter with prosthetic leg

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Posted at 9:59 AM, Jul 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-21 12:19:20-04

OKLAHOMA CITY - An Oklahoma family says they were discriminated against at an amusement park because of their daughter's prosthetic leg.

Averie Mitchell, 8, was born with a condition that caused her right leg to have to be amputated below the knee.

But she doesn't let her prosthetic leg slow her down one bit; she's on a competitive gymnastics team.

"I can do a cart-wheel on the balance beam," Averie said. "Right now I'm working on back walkovers."

She does everything a kid with two legs does and more.

Averie Mitchell, 8, was born with a condition that caused her right leg to have to be amputated below the knee. - Courtesy: KFOR-TV

Averie Mitchell, 8, was born with a condition that caused her right leg to have to be amputated below the knee. - Courtesy: KFOR-TV

That's why she and her family were so shocked Saturday at Frontier City's Wild West Water Works.

"We were getting ready to go down the slide and the attendant stepped in front of the slide and told Averie, 'you can't go down,'" her mom, Kim Mitchell, said.

Averie and her mom walked all the way back down to speak with the lead attendant, who told them the prosthetic could scratch their slides.

"I was angry, I was upset. My child was crying. She thought she had done something wrong," Kim said.

"I was kind of mad and sad," Averie said.

"I think they absolutely discriminated against her, giving the reason that it could scratch their slide," Averie's dad, John Mitchell, said. "People wear bracelets, watches, rings."

Oklahoma amusement park, Frontier City, wouldn't let girl with prosthetic leg go down water slide. - Courtesy: KFOR-TV

Oklahoma amusement park, Frontier City, wouldn't let girl with prosthetic leg go down water slide. - Courtesy: KFOR-TV

And even though management claimed it was part of their policy, the Mitchells said it is not on any sign, nor in the online regulations.

"We go to a lot of different places and never have we been treated like this," John said.

The family said they were humiliated as they were escorted to the front of the park by security so they could speak to a manager.

They say the policy needs to be more clear.

"Put it out there so other kids, or whoever, you know, they're not on top of the slide getting ready to start their day of fun at the water park when they're told, 'Sorry, you've got to leave,'" John said.

Frontier City management released this statement about the incident:

"Our goal at Frontier City is to create family fun and fond memories for each of our guests while placing a priority on guest safety. Our Ride Admission Policy has been developed in consultation with industry professionals, based on the recommendations of the ride manufacturer, past experiences, and evaluations of each ride using knowledge of the ride in all operating conditions.

Like many water parks across the United States, regulations regarding loose articles and medical assistance devices are enforced to ensure the safety of each guest. Unfortunately, we can?t allow loose articles, swimwear with exposed metal ornamentation, casts, certain limb braces, or prosthetic devices on certain slides at Wild West Water Works.

We never want to refuse our guests the opportunity to enjoy our attractions, but we must also always follow guidelines that have been set by our industry to insure the safety of all guests. To avoid any confusion or heartache in the future, we will strive to make sure this is communicated better in advance by adding the restrictions to our website and ride signage. We deeply regret any disappointment caused to our guests due to our Ride Admission Policies. Again, our first priority is guest safety and our mission is to provide the best experience possible for all of our guests."

Late Monday afternoon, Frontier City management told KFOR-TV the specific restrictions had already been added to their website and that they were in the process of adding it to the signs at the attractions.

The family did receive a full refund for their park tickets Saturday.

More: See the latest on this story from KFOR-TV