Tulsa Public Schools Removes X-Wave After Wyandotte Playground Death

Wednesday, August 25th 2010, 2:14 pm
By: News On 6

By Tara Vreeland, The News On 6

UNDATED -- The Wyandotte fourth grader who died last week after falling off of a piece of playground equipment and hitting her head was laid to rest Wednesday.

Alyssa Avila's funeral was Wednesday morning at the Wyandotte High School gym.

08/24/2010 Related Story: Funeral Wednesday Morning For 9-Year-Old Wyandotte Girl 

The medical examiner says the cause of death was inconclusive because no obvious signs of trauma were found. But the Wyandotte tribe's police chief says it's still possible Alyssa died from a head injury.

08/21/2010 Related Story: Ottawa County Girl Who Died In Playground Incident Suffered Head Injury

Alyssa Avila was on a piece of equipment called the X-Wave when the accident happened.

Since her death on Thursday, August 19,2010, X-Waves have come under intense scrutiny from school districts across the state.

Tulsa Public Schools sent inspectors to survey the districts 58 playgrounds. On Wednesday, TPS removed the one and only X-Wave on district property.

The teeter-totter like contraption set end to end, linked with flexible material, was removed from the playground of Henry Zarrow International School, at 2714 S. 90th E. Ave., before students arrived Wednesday.

"District administrators in an abundance of caution decided to take it out until the cause of death is determined in Wyandotte," Tami Marler, TPS Spokesperson, said.

Duane Beamer, TPS Certified Playground Inspector, said the five-year-old piece of equipment is in perfect working condition. Though there is a warning about the X-WAVE's installation, Tulsa Public Schools says better safe than sorry.

"But we don't want to take any chances so that's why it's gone for now," Marler said. "It may be back we don't know. Until it's determined completely safe."

The News On 6 spoke with some parents who said the X-WAVE is just like any other piece of playground equipment. And that they should all be used with adult supervision.

As for Tulsa's banished X-WAVE, Beamer says he it will be stored at the district's maintenance department.

"It was colorful and big and kids like things like that. They like climbing on things like that. They'll probably miss it but it's worth it to keep them safe," Marler said.

School officials are notifying parents with a letter going home with students.

Zarrow school says it plans to replace the XWAVE with another piece of playground equipment.

Holland Hall has suspended student access to their X-Wave two at the primary school's playground.

Owasso schools says they have three X-Waves, one original and two X-Waves 2. They have been fenced off until further notice.

Officials in at least six other school districts across the state-- Moore, Edmond, Oklahoma City, Putnam City, Deer Creek and Norman -- have either already removed the structures or prohibited children from playing on them.

Xccent Inc. is the private Minnesota company that makes the colorful X-Waves and other playground equipment.

Company officials have refused to discuss how their product functions on a playground or how many have been sold to schools across the country until authorities give an official cause of Alyssa's death.

"We would love to share that information with you once the completion of the investigation takes place," said Dan Link, Xccent's vice president of sales and marketing. "We feel it would be irresponsible to make additional comment at this point."

Meanwhile, in Wyandotte, the X-Wave has been surrounded by an 8-foot-high chain link fence, School Superintendent Troy Gray said Wednesday.

"No matter what comes of the investigation, it will be removed because of the emotional attachment," Gray said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report