Friday, July 06, 2007

Intestinal Fortitude

Lots of reaction to my comments on KMOX yesterday about Abbey Taylor, the 6-year-old girl in Minnesota who had her small intestines sucked out by the drain in a wading pool.

I said that the golf course where the accident took place shouldn't hide behind their lawyers and deny that they'd done anything wrong. Instead, they should get ahead of the story, apologize to Abbey and her parents for this horrific accident, and promise to help pay her medical bills for a long time.

I understand about fiduciary responsibilities, and getting the insurance company's liability people involved, and all the rest. But we're talking about a little girl who, through no fault of her own, started out playing in the water and ended up with a lifetime of colostomy bags and intravenous feeding.

I felt the same way last month after Kaitlyn Lassiter lost both her feet when the cable snapped on that Six Flags ride in Kentucky. If you're the CEO of that company, you shouldn't wait for the lawyers and paper-pushers to vett what you're going to say. You immediately issue a statement offering your sympathy to the girl and her family, promise other Six Flags customers that you'll conduct a full safety investigation (of not just that ride, but every ride in every one of your parks), and you offer to pay all of Kaitlyn's medical expenses related to the accident forever.

In other words, you act like a human being who cares, not like some bureaucrat worried about the corporation's bottom line. Worse, in too many of these stories, you end up in court fighting the family with a team of lawyers, all to save a couple of million dollars which, in the end, won't bankrupt you, but will make their lives a little better.

It's not like there's an epidemic of intestine-sucking going on in America's pools -- there have been an average of 10 incidents a year since 1990 -- but, if there's any upside to this, there's the hope that other pool owners will hear Abbey's story and check the suction on their drains to prevent a similar accident hurting another kid.

And that someone in the management of that golf course in Minnesota hasn't had their heart sucked out.