Parents begin new fight after Oldham County teen severely injured in sword accident
The Ballingers are suing the sword company because they say the metal part of the blade did not extend through the handle on the sword, nor was it secured by bolts or rivets.
LA GRANGE, Ky. (WDRB) – Five months ago, an Oldham County High School Student was seriously injured in a freak accident when he was struck in head with a sword.
The now 16-year-old had defied the odds on his long road to recovery, But his parents are making it their mission to make sure the same thing doesn't happen to someone else.
Tristan Ballinger wasn't expected to live, talk or be able to move his arms and legs ever again.
“The doctors can only tell us what they medically see is wrong with him and God is taking care of everything else,” Mike Ballinger told WDRB News.
Through it all Tristan’s parents, Mike and Nicole Ballinger, say their faith has been getting them through the tough times.
In November, one of Tristan's friends swung a sword at a water bottle that was tossed in the air. The blade dislodged from the handle -- striking Tristan in the head. Since then he's dealt with surgeries and hundreds of hours of physical therapy.
“He's approaching his therapy the same way that he played sports ... he's all in," Mike Ballinger said. “Tristan, if you talk to anybody that knows him he's always been a fighter his whole life.”
Now it's his parent's turn to fight back. The Ballingers are suing Top Swords LLC of Dallas, Georgia. Their attorney says the metal part of the blade did not extend through the handle on the sword, nor was it secured by bolts or rivets.
“It only went seven centimeters inside the handle and appears to have been secured by rubber cement,” said the Ballinger's attorney, Mat Slechter.
Slechter added there was no warning whatsoever on the sword.
“It was an inherently dangerous item,” he said.
Tristan recently had a piece of his skull replaced after it had been removed to help with swelling. Since then, his parents say he's progressed physically and mentally. His memories have come back, he can carry a conversation, but physically there are differences. Tristan is in a wheelchair, but is able to make small movements with his arms and legs.
“Very slow improvements, but the main focus is there's still continued improvements. He doesn't have the range of motion that we would like him to have, but still continued improvements,” Nicole Ballinger said.
Because of the life-changing accident the family is suing the sword company for a total of $60 million -- $20 million in compensatory damages and $40 million in punitive damages.
“Tristan has been catastrophically injured, this injury will to some extent impact him for the rest of his life. He's going to have future medical expenses, he's going to have loss of future income potential, he's going to require care. He's already endured a lot of suffering and will endure a lot of suffering in the future,” Slechter said.
The Ballingers also hope Tristan's story and this lawsuit will prevent another person from being severely injured.
“The bottom line is ... I hope that no parent gets the same phone call. I just hope it doesn't happen to another kid. If our story can help somebody else, we've done our job,” Nicole Ballinger said.
Two upcoming fundraisers will be held for Tristan.
On Saturday, May 13 at 10 a.m., there will be a Run4Tristan 5k held at the Oldham County High School track. Those interested can email Run4tristan@gmail.com
Then on June 10 at 9 a.m., Kort rehab in Crestwood will host a 5k at Warren C. Walker Park in Douglas Hills, KY. Those Interested can contact Kort at 502-241-5597.
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