Ohio parents sue Sea Pines Resort after 4-year-old fell at Harbour Town playground

An Ohio couple is suing the Sea Pines Resort after their 4-year-old son fell at a “poorly lit” Harbour Town playground on Hilton Head Island.

The personal injury lawsuit, which follows a wrongful death suit against the resort over a woman killed by an alligator, was filed on July 26 in Beaufort County by Sarah and Thomas Sang on behalf of their child. The boy was injured while playing on Gregg Russell’s Harbour Town Playground on July 8, 2018, according to the lawsuit.

The boy was playing on a piece of equipment that looks like a “tree house” and fell through a hole in “the hollowed out portion of the tree house,” the lawsuit said.

The child sustained “severe and permanent injuries” from the fall, according to the lawsuit.

The parents, who were at the playground at the time, “suffered emotional distress” as a result of watching the child fall and sustain injuries, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit accuses the Sea Pines Resort of negligence in failing to “maintain and to operate the playground” in a safe manner. The Sangs are also accusing the Sea Pines Resort of failing to provide and display warnings about the dangers of the tree house.

Sea Pines Resort representatives declined to comment on the lawsuit, as litigation is pending.

While the playground has a sign that lists warnings, “these warnings and instructions are contradictory to the warnings and instructions found on the tree house,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit also said the inside of the tree house was “poorly lit,” and the lack of lighting created “a hazardous condition.”

The Sangs said in the lawsuit that there was “no signage indicating that the playground was closed during certain hours.“ The playground closes at 9 p.m. Sunset the evening of the incident was 8:33 p.m.


The 4-year-old boy suffered “pain, suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-economic damages” from the fall, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit, filed by George Jebaily of Florence and Bert G. Utsey of Charleston, did not specify the injuries the boy suffered or say whether he went to the hospital. The lawsuit asks for unspecified damages.

Lawsuit over deadly alligator attack

In an unrelated case against Sea Pines Resort, James Cline, the husband of a woman killed by an alligator last year, filed a wrongful death suit in April against the Sea Pines Resort and Sea Pines Community Services Associates (CSA).

The Resort and CSA were both aware of the “aggressive” 9-foot-alligator in Sea Pines, but failed to warn the public about it, and failed to take appropriate measures such as removing the alligator, according to the lawsuit.

In May, attorneys representing the Sea Pines Resort asked a judge to dismiss it from the lawsuit. President Steven Birdwell said in a letter that the resort does not own or operate the lagoon or the land where the woman was killed, nor does the resort have permission to remove alligators, therefore the resort should not be a defendant in the lawsuit.

CSA representatives responded to the lawsuit in June, and said the organization had “no reason to know, and could not have foreseen, that the alligator (that killed Cline) was aggressive or posed a peculiar threat or hazard to the public.”

Sea Pines Resort operates the visitor amenities within Sea Pines including hotels, Harbour Town and the Sea Pines Beach Club. Sea Pines Community Services Associates represents residential property owners within the community and operate the roads and common property inside the gated community.

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Mandy Matney is an award-winning journalist and self-proclaimed shark enthusiast from Kansas. She worked for newspapers in Missouri and Illinois before she realized Midwestern winters are horrible, then moved to Hilton Head in 2016. She is the breaking news editor at the Island Packet.