Open Gym Accident Leads to Inspection of Safety Procedures

A student’s hand was crushed by a faulty weight machine in the open gym area at PLNU on October 4th, breaking three bones and causing nerve damage. The student, Sydnee Kerekffy called a friend for help, and when friends arrived they called 911.

“She was in complete distress. I’ve never seen someone in that much pain in my life,” said Bella Sullins, junior environmental studies major.

Paramedics arrived within 10 minutes of the call and took her to UCSD medical center.  She underwent surgery the following week where metal rods were placed in her fingers.

What surprised Kerekffy the most was that it was up to her and her father, Kyle Kerekffy, to inform officials of what took place that evening.

“Nobody on campus had reached out after the accident,” Kerekffy.

Kyle Kerekffy, safety auditor himself, believes that the safety management system on campus needs to be evaluated more heavily to prevent an event like this from happening again. 

“If you’re going to have a fitness center, you need to make it a safe space”,  Kyle Kerekffy said. “Move it to a better location. Put some cameras in there for public safety to supervise. The most important thing is when someone gets hurt, what do you do about it.”

Kerekffy believes these concerns pose a serious threat to the safety of students. 

“For open gym, there is no sign in sheet and no cameras. If I were to pass out, no one would have known,” said Kerekffy.

 The leg press machine that Kerekffy was attempting to use is located on the upper level of the gym. She placed her left hand on the weights to steady her position and adjust the weight setting, not realizing there was an issue with the machine. After wiggling out the pin, the 165 pounds of weight suspended at the top fell, crushing her hand. It was later speculated that the previous user of the machine improperly inserted the pin in the weights.

“It’s not a safe piece of equipment if it can malfunction in any way,” said Kyle Kerekffy.

A friend of Kerekffy, Bri Seidler, junior psychology major, called for the ambulance after the accident occured.

“Not a single person in the gym was aware of what happened to Sydnee. There are no cameras in the gym and that is a flaw in their system,” Seidler said. 

The machine was inspected for safety issues ten days after the incident happened. It was available for use in between the injury and the inspection, which was unsettling for Kerekffy to hear. 

Jeff Bolster, Vice President of University Services,  said that the campus safety committee meets on a quarterly basis to go over safety issues.

“A third party organization does regular inspections in service of all of the equipment in the weight room”,  Jeff Bolster. 

Bolster said that installing cameras in the open gym area could raise privacy issues. He told the Point he was not sure when the equipment was last inspected.

While frustrated by the initial lack of attention this case received, Kerekffy and her family are now looking toward the future for productive and beneficial improvement to be made.

“What happened is in the past, the question now is what are we gonna do with it. This is an opportunity to get involved in a positive change to improve the fitness center,” said Kerekffy’s father. 

Sydnee Kerekffy has a vision to improve Point Loma’s campus for the better. Expanding the gym, bringing in safer equipment and strengthening safety procedures are what she hopes come out of her accident. 

“It’s not about me, it’s about addressing the safety protocol of the campus so this doesn’t happen to anyone else,” Kerekffy said.

By: Camden Painton