IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Mask dispute leads to couple's assault on teen Sesame Place worker, police say

"It's a shame you have a 17-year-old working hard and he's doing the right thing and reminding people about the mask policy ... and they did not receive it well," a police lieutenant said.

A 17-year-old worker at a Pennsylvania theme park suffered a displaced jaw and will require surgery after he was assaulted by a couple he asked to wear masks, police said.

The worker at Sesame Place on the outskirts of Philadelphia encountered the couple, a man and a woman, at the park hours before the incident Sunday and reminded them to wear masks, Middletown Township police Det. Lt. Steve Forman said in a phone interview Tuesday.

"Their employees are trying to convey the message from the governor," Forman said, referring to the theme park's staff and Gov. Tom Wolf's mandate to wear masks in public.

Sesame Place requires guests age 2 and older to wear face coverings while in the park except while eating and drinking or in designated relaxation areas. Face coverings are not allowed in the park's water attractions.

Shortly after 5 p.m. on Sunday, an altercation ensued after the park worker repeated his reminder to the couple, who were at a ride, to wear their masks, the police lieutenant said.

The couple responded in an aggressive manner, Forman said.

"During the course of this confrontation, they escalated the incident, with both the female and male striking the 17-year- old male Sesame Place staff member in the face, knocking him to the ground," Forman said.

The worker was taken by ambulance to a hospital. He sustained injuries to his jaw and teeth, Forman said, adding that the teenager will require surgery to put his jaw back in place.

"A full recovery is expected," Forman said. "It's going to be an uncomfortable recovery."

"It's a shame you have a 17-year-old working hard and he's doing the right thing and reminding people about the mask policy and the governor's orders, and they did not receive it well," Forman added.

A review of surveillance footage determined the couple were part of a group of about seven that included children and adults, Forman said. The entire party left the park after the incident. The suspects were tentatively identified through the registration on the vehicle they left in.

In addition to examining an "immense" amount of surveillance footage in response to the incident, the investigation included looking at the reservation and transaction records of the suspects, who are believed to be from New York City, Forman said.

He said Middletown Township police are working with the New York City Police Department and New York State Police to track down the couple.

Sesame Place, a children's theme and water park, is operating "at a greatly reduced capacity," because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Forman.

A spokeswoman for Sesame Place, Dana Ryan, said the employee was seriously injured in the assault.

"We've been in close communication with the family of our injured team member, and are hoping for a full and speedy recovery," Ryan said in a statement Tuesday. "The health and safety of our guests and team members is our top priority, and violence of any kind is unacceptable and not tolerated at our park."