Communication Device May Have Saved Lives In Thanksgiving Parade
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 28, 2005
ALBANY, NEW YORK--For years, many people who do not talk have considered text-to-speech communicators to be their lifesavers.
For Mary and Sarah Chamberlain, however, a Dynavox communication device may have literally saved their very lives when a parade balloon turned deadly.
Mary, 26, who has cerebral palsy, and her Albany family were on hand to see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade last Thursday in New York City's Times Square. Eleven-year-old Sarah had insisted at the last minute that they bring her sister's Dynavox, which is attached to a tray on Mary's wheelchair, so that Mary could communicate with her family.
"We were going to leave Mary's tray in the van," explained their father, Stephen Chamberlain. "But Sarah said, 'No. Mary needs to talk.'"
Just before noon, as the parade was winding down, a gust of wind reportedly caused the tether lines of a giant, 500-pound balloon shaped like an "M&M" chocolate candy wrapper to get tangled around a street lamp directly above the family.
The light fixture then fell off and crashed down on Mary's lap -- stopped only by the Dynavox.
While the fixture just slightly grazed Mary's head, her little sister received nine stitches in her head.
"If the Dynavox not been there, this could have been much worse," Mr. Chamberlain, 47, told the Albany Times-Union. "Like I said, six inches in either direction and this would have been a different story."
The family has decided not to sue Macy's or the city, calling the event an "unfortunate accident".
Macy's has agreed to pay for the sisters' medical bills and, if necessary, to repair or replace Mary's Dynavox communication device.
"Back Home, Injured Sisters Grin and Bear Media Glare" (New York Times)
"Sisters cope with their accidental fame" (Albany Times-Union)