Boy breaks leg during Disney World ride evac; lawsuit settled quickly
B-Roll video shoot with additional photography in Walt Disney World, June 2014

WDW B-Roll Shoot
The lawsuit wasn't going to be a drawn-out legal battle.

This tragedy starts in a small Alabama town.

After being asked to clean his bedroom, a 16-year-old boy shot and killed his father and critically injured his younger brother, multiple media outlets in Alabama reported in 2019.

Hunter Wanca, who was 12 at the time, survived the shooting but was paralyzed from the chest down, according to reports.

In 2020, Hunter’s friends and classmates surprised him with a future trip to Disney World to lift his spirits for all the boy had gone through, Huntsville-based WHNT News 19 said. The trip was given by an Alabama organization that grants wishes for hurt and sick children.

But at Disney, Hunter went through another ordeal, according to his guardian’s lawsuit filed last month in Orange Circuit Court.

Hunter rode the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train when the popular Magic Kingdom roller coaster malfunctioned on March 30, 2021. Four Reedy Creek first responders arrived at the ride to evacuate passengers from the ride. When the first responders tried to lift (Hunter) to remove him from the ride, they over-extended his leg, snapping his right femur at the knee,” according to the lawsuit against Reedy Creek Improvement District, which is Disney World’s government.

The lawsuit said Hunter “sustained serious injuries and other damages including, but not limited to a right distal femur supracondylar fracture.”

Richard McNamara, the boy’s guardian and grandfather, is listed as the plaintiff on behalf of Hunter. The lawsuit doesn’t mention Hunter is paralyzed, although several news outlets in Alabama and CBS News had reported on Hunter’s injuries from the shooting.

The lawsuit wasn’t going to be a drawn-out legal battle.

The two sides reached a settlement, according to a notice filed Tuesday, three weeks after the lawsuit was filed.

Morgan & Morgan declined to provide the terms of the settlement Tuesday when reached for comment, calling the agreement confidential.

Reedy Creek, which provides emergency response for Disney World and manages Disney’s infrastructure needs, did not respond to multiple requests for comment or to questions about the settlement amount. If they respond, this story will be updated.

Reedy Creek also has not immediately responded to a public records request Florida Politics made on Dec. 16 for emergency calls or other records related to the alleged incident as well as information on the ride evacuations at Magic Kingdom on the day the lawsuit said Hunter was hurt at the park.

Florida’s biggest theme parks are required to self-report visitors’ injuries when they are hurt on rides and hospitalized for at least 24 hours. Those incidents become public records every quarter when the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services releases them in a report.

Disney did not report anyone hurt on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in March 2021.

But the state report has historically been unreliable in informing the public when people are hurt at the theme parks. Over the years, visitors’ injuries have been downplayed, described in vague terms, or aren’t reported at all because they don’t fit the narrow parameters that define what the parks are required to disclose.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


  • Paul Passarelli

    December 20, 2022 at 4:52 pm

    An unfortunate break for the boy. But hardly newsworthy as a story. I’m certain none of the parties even suspected or alleged that the first responders acted inappropriately. It’s only in hindsight that the boy’s bones appear to be atrophying faster than anyone expected.

  • Jim

    December 21, 2022 at 12:33 pm

    The issue for me is how was this person cleared to be able to ride safely. It seems to me like this person likely would not meet basic rider safety requirements for this type of ride.

Comments are closed.


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