Tumbler Sues Group After Paralyzing Injury

Two years ago, Jarvis Williams excelled at sports and in the classroom at Fenger High School

By Lauren Jiggetts and Samantha Hickey
|  Tuesday, Jul 20, 2010  |  Updated 8:24 PM CDT
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A lawsuit claims the team moved him onto a bus while they finished the show and neglected to call for help.

A lawsuit claims the team moved him onto a bus while they finished the show and neglected to call for help.

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Two years ago, Jarvis Williams excelled at sports and in the classroom at Fenger High School.

Having tumbled since he was a child, he was selected to join the Jesse White Tumblers in 2007.  But while performing in an Independence Day parade in Wheaton a year later, he landed on his head while executing a move he would later say he'd done over 50 times previously.

“It was like a clicking in my neck, I was getting dizzy,” Williams said.

After the fall, Williams said that he couldn’t move. He said that one of his teammates put him over his shoulder and carried him to a van, where he waited while the team finished its performance. No ambulance was called.

“They said my nerves were shot and that that happens, so they gave me water and said that it would come back,” Williams said.

But feeling in the lower half of Williams’ body never did come back, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. The Williams family has filed a lawsuit against the Jesse White Tumblers, claiming that the team should have done more to treat him.

“You have to call an ambulance, whether it’s a sprain, broken ankle, or something that needs a Band-Aid,” his mother, Torri Jones, said. “You’re not a doctor, so you can’t say the words of, 'Oh I’ve had that happen to me, don’t worry.'"

Williams was transported back to the team’s headquarters in the van after the team finished performing. When his father arrived on the scene, he immediately called an ambulance.

The Williams’ lawsuit alleges that they did not call an ambulance and did not properly stabilize his neck or spine. Attorney Tony Romanucci adds that the padding used during the performance was not adequate.

“It’s one thing to tumble at the United Center with a wood floor. It is another to tumble on asphalt,” Romanucci said in an interview Tuesday afternoon.

Before the accident, Williams played football and baseball, and was a wrestler and a drumline member. Although his life has changed dramatically, the now 20-year-old tries to have a positive attitude.

“ It [his life] changed a lot, but I try to make the best out of it instead of looking back,” Williams said, “because all that is going to do is pull me back in, make me sick or whatever, so I just think positive and move forward.”

The lawsuit seeks over $50,000 in damages. The office of Secretary of State Jesse White declined to comment, because they have not yet seen the lawsuit.

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