At TwitchCon in early September the streamer Adriana Chechik was badly injured after jumping into an unsafe foam pit (opens in new tab). Chechik was not the only streamer to do this, but the injuries she sustained were the worst: the fall broke her back in at least two places, a tragedy made worse by the free sharing of a short clip of the incident on social media.
Chechik has now shared an update on her treatment since the incident. Writing on social media she said her injuries were even worse than initially reported: “So surgery went well, 5 hrs 30 minutes! More fusions than expected, bones completely crushed & nerve damage to my bladder, hopefully I’ll be able to pee again in the near future…had some bleeding around the bone but overall doing good!”
The streamer also went on to address any criticism of her for doing what others were doing at TwitchCon. “For the ppl asking why did u jump. Don’t try and turn me into the bad guy. I am among all those who assumed it was met with proper safety precautions. It’s like getting into a car assuming the air bag will work and it doesn’t. I’m not at fault. None of the victims injured are.”
Several other streamers were injured during TwitchCon, at this event and others, and one of the big questions must be the organisers’ culpability for events that were clearly unsafe. Other streamers injured included LochVaness, who dislocated her knee and sprained her ankle after stepping off a podium, while others have reported a host of less severe injuries. It looks especially bad in this light that contestants had to sign liability waivers before competing, and a commentator’s assertion that the organisers were “all about safety here at the Lenovo Legion booth.”
The pit was eventually closed during TwitchCon, but this story may be around for a while. Chechik signed that waiver, but in the expectation that organisers had done everything possible to make a physical activity safe. The event was called Face Off and was basically the Gladiators activity where people try to knock each other off a raised platform with padded poles. These were above a foam pit which looked more like a thin scattering of foam cubes across a hard convention centre floor.
Chechik has shared examples of the kind of therapy she’s going through, and her feelings on the process. “Tried sitting up today in PT, I would rather die than do that again. I hate this my whole body hates it. I don’t want to be tough. I don’t want to be brave I cried for a hour and the pain is so immense through all the meds im on. Idk if I can do this. I can’t explain this pain.”
On 14 October, Chechik was able to walk just before a second round of surgery: “Today was so hard,” said Chechick. “I WALKED. I passed out after I brushed my teeth and had to be carried back but baby got her dancing shoes. It was so exhausting I have slept all day since.”
Chechnik subsequently shared a selfie from the hospital bed on Instagram (opens in new tab) (thanks, Kotaku (opens in new tab)). “Not being able to move or do anything for myself is so difficult. I’m so thankful to the nursing staff. I never thought I would ever be immobile. These next few days are going to be extremely hard. Yesterday I sat up and then spent the rest of my day in hysterics and pain […] I’m gonna take it one day at a time and if I’m not rdy then I’m not rdy […] Thank you to everyone who’s rooting for me!”
There’s been no comment from the organisers involved beyond Lenovo, which said it was “aware of the incidents of TwitchCon visitors who sustained injuries in the gladiator game soft foam pit” and that it would “work with event organizers to look into the incidents.”
The corporate silence is unsurprising. The number of people injured and the severity of Chechik’s injuries are likely to lead to legal action, though none of the parties involved have yet taken any steps in this direction: Chechik’s more focused on getting back on her feet right now.