You break it; you buy it. That old adage seems to be hitting home in a new way for a couple who just received a bill for $132,000. What did they break? Their son was drawn to a sculpture. The five-year-old boy tried to give it a hug. Unfortunately, that show of affection was enough to topple the sculpture. Now the parents have been told they have to pay for it.
The accident happened at the Tomahawk Ridge Community Center in Overland Park, Kansas.
Sarah Goodman was there with her children for a wedding reception.
“We heard a bunch of commotion and I thought, ‘Whose yelling at my son?’” Goodman told ABC. “This glass mosaic torso is laying on the ground and someone is following me around demanding my personal information.”
The surveillance video shows there was more to the story. The boy reached up to hug the “glass mosaic torso” which toppled. The pieces of glass were held together with lead came, and solder. Lead, valued for its flexibility, is an integral part in the stained glass building process.
After the reception, the insurance company that insured the sculpture sent the couple a bill.
“My children are well supervised but all people get distracted,” Goodman said.
The push-back from the insurance company seems surprising, considering the available opportunity for a lawsuit. The glass statue was not well secured. While such displays are common in museum settings, they could be considered a hazard in a community center.
“It’s in the main walkway. Not a separate room. No plexiglass. Not protected. Not held down,” Goodman said. “There was no border around it. There wasn’t even a sign around it that said, ‘Do not touch’.”
Goodman says no one at the community center asked about the condition of her child. Instead, they were concerned only with the artwork.
“He’s honestly been having bad dreams every night,” she said. “None of these people have ever once said, ‘How is Troy? How is your son holding up? Is his face okay?’”
“It was a piece that was loaned to us that we are responsible for. That’s public money,” City of Overland Park spokesperson Sean Reilly told reporters. “We are responsible to protect the public investment.”
He noted that the sculpture was never meant to be touched.
“There’s a societal responsibility that you may not interact with it if it’s not designed for interaction,” he said.
His explanation seems coherent enough, though societal responsibilities are often misunderstood by five-year-olds.
“$132,000 is completely astronomical,” Goodman said. “We’ll see what the insurance company says and if they’re going to take it to lawyers. We don’t know.”