Charlotte family settles suit after 5-year-old son dies at Georgia rotating restaurant

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Hayley Fowler
·5 min read
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The family of a 5-year-old boy from Charlotte who died from injuries sustained at a rotating restaurant in Atlanta has reached a confidential settlement agreement with the hotel corporation that owns it.

Marriott International released a joint statement with the family on Wednesday — the fourth anniversary of Charlie Holt’s death — confirming the deal. In it, they said Charlie and his family were leaving the Sun Dial Restaurant in 2017 when the accident occurred.

“Charlie’s parents, the Sun Dial employees and bystanders did everything that they could to try to save Charlie,” the joint statement reads. “Unfortunately, Charlie suffered a serious brain injury and later died as a result of those injuries. The parties have agreed to resolve this matter and avoid further litigation. The terms of the settlement are strictly confidential.”

His parents Michael and Rebecca Holt also released a separate statement.

“Our family will never recover from the loss of Charlie,” they said. “In fact, we have struggled for many months with whether or not we should release this joint statement. Being under the microscope of the world has been horrific and the thought of conjuring it up again was like reopening a wound that will never fully heal.”

Charlie died April 14, 2017, after his head got stuck in a gap between a wooden booth on the restaurant’s rotating floor and a stationary wall, according to the lawsuit his parents filed against Marriott and several others in November 2017.

The suit said Marriott knew the turning mechanism was a long-standing hazard.

Family and strangers attempt to rescue Charlie Holt as his head gets stuck between a wall and a piece of furniture, as included in the lawsuit.
Family and strangers attempt to rescue Charlie Holt as his head gets stuck between a wall and a piece of furniture, as included in the lawsuit.

According to a Charlotte Observer report at the time, witnesses said a waiter had to jump the staircase to turn off the rotation device — but it was too late.

Michael Holt “literally tore the booth apart with his hands, but he could not free Charlie,” according to the 2017 lawsuit.

Rebecca Holt was holding Charlie’s then 2-year-old sister and became “absolutely hysterical” and “at times had to be physically restrained,” their attorneys said. It reportedly took several minutes before the booth budged enough for Charlie to slip free.

He died at the hospital later that day.

Charlie’s family was visiting Atlanta from Charlotte when they went to the Sun Dial on the uppermost floors of The Westin Peachtree Plaza for lunch. The restaurant has a 360-degree panorama view of the Atlanta skyline, according to its website. But it no longer rotates, WSBTV reported.

Charlie Holt (second from the left) smiles with his family the day of the accident.
Charlie Holt (second from the left) smiles with his family the day of the accident.

The Holts said in the lawsuit that “false narratives” indicating they were somehow at fault circulated in the media after Charlie’s death and that Marriott did “nothing to correct the false information.”

The company addressed those allegations in Wednesday’s statement.

“Some initial reports suggested that the child’s parents were responsible because Charlie had wandered away from his family and that his parents were not being vigilant in watching their son,” the statement reads. “After a full investigation, all sides can confidently say that these initial reports were incorrect. Both sides agree that Charlie did not wander off. Charlie and his family were leaving the restaurant after finishing their meal and the parents were close to Charlie as they were leaving.”

The Holts said they want their children to know they “did nothing wrong that day.”

“One day, when they Google their brother, which they will, they need to be able to find the truth hidden in the lies and commentary of the press and police officers who never asked nor took our statement,” Michael and Rebecca Holt said. “We owe it to Charlie to make sure the world knows the truth. And we owe it to all families, to make sure safety measures have been put into place to prevent this from ever happening again.”

Both statements provided by the Holt’s attorneys are posted in their entirety below.

Join statement from Marriott and the Holt family:

“On April 14, 2017, Charlie Holt suffered a serious injury at the Sun Dial Restaurant, a restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia. There have been conflicting media reports about this tragedy. Some initial reports suggested that the child’s parents were responsible because Charlie had wandered away from his family and that his parents were not being vigilant in watching their son. After a full investigation, all sides can confidently say that these initial reports were incorrect.

“Both sides agree that Charlie did not wander off. Charlie and his family were leaving the restaurant after finishing their meal and the parents were close to Charlie as they were leaving. When the accident occurred, Charlie’s parents, the Sun Dial employees and bystanders did everything that they could to try to save Charlie. Unfortunately, Charlie suffered a serious brain injury and later died as a result of those injuries. The parties have agreed to resolve this matter and avoid further litigation. The terms of the settlement are strictly confidential. This statement has been approved by both the Holt Family and Marriott International, Inc.”

Statement from Michael and Rebecca Holt:

“Our family will never recover from the loss of Charlie. In fact, we have struggled for many months with whether or not we should release this joint statement. Being under the microscope of the world has been horrific and the thought of conjuring it up again was like reopening a wound that will never fully heal.

“However, we are reminded of the goal of this statement, so that Charlie’s siblings know that their brother and their parents did nothing wrong that day. One day, when they Google their brother, which they will, they need to be able to find the truth hidden in the lies and commentary of the press and police officers who never asked nor took our statement. We owe it to Charlie to make sure the world knows the truth. And we owe it to all families, to make sure safety measures have been put into place to prevent this from ever happening again.”

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