Power of a Penny – Couple Sues Zoo Over Son Swallowing Souvenir Coin

Bronx Zoo –  A promotional gimmick to distribute souvenir coins was anything but penny-wise for one New Jersey family, whose child swallowed the free gift — and was left with serious injuries, according to a lawsuit.

Little Ethan Yi and his family spent every Saturday at the Zoo, and the 3-year-old was especially eager for last summer’s Dinosaur Safari exhibit.

“He’s crazy about dinosaurs,” said his mom, Kelly Yi. “I tried to avoid it, but he was dying to see it.”

So the family forked over $16 for tickets, and the promise of a free gift, for which Ethan and his 5-year-old sister Harin soon began clamoring.

“They kept saying, ‘I want it!’ ” the mom recalled.

The gift for each family member was a pressed penny, imprinted with the words “Dinosaur Safari” and secured with plastic wrapping to a postcard advertising more than 30 similar coins for sale. An employee handed the coin directly to Ethan, according to the Bronx Supreme Court lawsuit.

“I was really disappointed at the time,” said Yi, who thought the gift would be more substantial.

Next thing she knew, Ethan was choking, and the family had three pennies — not four.

“I thought he’d die,” she said.

The panicked mother and her husband, Heung Ju Yi, tried desperately to dislodge the coin from Ethan’s throat but couldn’t, and rushed Ethan to an emergency medical clinic, where X-rays showed the penny had entered the stomach.

“They said it would come out a few days later,” the mom recalled.

A second X-ray the next day showed the penny wasn’t moving, and doctors urged the Palisades Park family to get it removed — the family went to the Hackensack University Hospital ER.

Two days later, the little boy, who had been vomiting and gagging, was put under general anesthesia for two to three hours as a doctor removed the corroded penny via an endoscopy.

The jagged shape of the token stunned Yi.

“The coin was really, really sharp,” she said.

Like a regular penny, it was made of zinc with a thin layer of copper on top. The zinc can react with stomach acid, according to family lawyer Howard Myerowitz.

“Literally within a couple of hours, it starts to dissolve,” he said.

The jagged edge scraped and cut the inside of Ethan’s stomach, and the ordeal cost the uninsured family — the mom is a fabric designer and the dad a skin-care supplies salesman — more than $50,000 in medical bills, Myerowitz said.

The family is seeking unspecified damages from the Zoo and the Wildlife Conservation Society, which did not return a message seeking comment.

The Bronx Zoo’s supposed to be a place for kids, said Yi.

“I feel really angry and frustrated at the Bronx Zoo,” she said. “It’s a place where kids play, I thought it was good for kids but it wasn’t.”

The family stopped going to the zoo, said Yi, who wondered why there was no warning about the dangers of swallowing the coins.

“There’s a warning sign for everything. Even the hot coffee has a warning sign,” she said.

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Original article courtesy of nypost.com.




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