A 19-year-old former Vernon Hills Park District camp director is demanding answers after he was allegedly fired following an attack where he says he was seriously injured by children during a field trip last summer.
Sam Glazer, 19, posted a TikTok video on January 17 alleging he was physically attacked while working as a camp director with the Vernon Hills Park District.
Glazer, who recently graduated from Vernon Hills High School, said he was initially hired by the park district in May 2023 to work a front desk position.
He was later offered the camp director position for the summer and accepted it, he said.
Glazer was assigned as the camp director for the “Art Sparks” summer 2023 camp program, which is a youth day camp for those entering grades 1-3 and ran from June 5 to August 4, according to a page on the park district’s website.
The camp information was removed from the park district’s website on Wednesday.
The alleged attack occurred on July 26, 2023, during a parkour field trip at The Zone in Mount Prospect.
The Zone, located at 550 East Business Center Drive in Mount Prospect, is an indoor sporting facility owned and managed by the River Trails Park District.
Mount Prospect Police Department Public Information Officer Greg Sill told Lake and McHenry County Scanner that Glazer reported he was battered by a group of children, ranging in age from 6-8 years old, during a dodgeball game.
In the TikTok video, which has been viewed more than 350,000 times, Glazer said “all of a sudden” he was pushed from behind and landed his face on the ground.
“From that point on, several campers were on top of me, kicking me, stomping me, and punching my head, my neck, my back. They were trying to pull my pants down. I was physically assaulted,” Glazer said.
Glazer said he tried to protect himself by covering his head with his hands and he said he was afraid of pushing the campers off of him because he didn’t want to be held liable if they got hurt.
Glazer said the attack lasted for at least five minutes, and his other camp counselors were not nearby, which he said is against park district protocol.
“One of The Zone’s employees was sitting right in front of this when this attack was happening and she chose not to do anything to intervene or help me as I was screaming, ‘Stop, that’s enough, get off me,’ repeatedly,” Glazer said.
Other counselors eventually stopped the attack, but it was already too late, Glazer said.
Two days after the alleged attack, Glazer said that he visited an urgent care center.
“When I got to the urgent care place, they were very concerned for my wellbeing. They thought I had a broken neck, or a broken back, vertebrae, whatever, and a very bad concussion.”
Paramedics transported Glazer to a local hospital, where he was diagnosed with a concussion, back contusions and neck contusions, he said.
“I was in a lot of pain,” Glazer said.
Mount Prospect Police Department Public Information Officer Greg Sill said an officer took Glazer’s police report on July 29, 2023, three days after the alleged attack.
Police spoke with the parents of the children allegedly involved and an independent witness, Sill said.
The officer also checked with The Zone for any video surveillance footage.
“The officer was unable to corroborate the accounts of the incident provided by the complainant or locate any video evidence,” Sill said.
“The complainant filed the report as a matter of record and stated he did not wish for any action to be taken by our agency; therefore the case was closed,” Sill added.
In the video, Glazer said his symptoms worsened following his emergency room visit and he went to see his primary care provider.
Doctors wanted to know if Glazer was suffering a brain bleed, so he went back to the emergency room for his second computed tomography (CT) scan in less than four days, he said.
“Luckily that CAT scan was normal and everything was fine, but it didn’t explain those symptoms I had,” Glazer said.
“I was experiencing terrible memory loss, stuttering, I couldn’t remember what day it was. I was like a deer looking in headlights. I was confused, I was out of it. It was a bad situation for me to be in.”
Glazer said that a neurologist diagnosed him with post-concussion syndrome.
Glazer said he still experiences the symptoms today and faces a long road to recovery.
“My back to this day is excruciating to me to lay down on, to sit. I’m in a lot of pain still. I get terrible headaches from my head injury,” Glazer said.
Due to his injuries, Glazer said he stayed home to recover and missed his first semester of college.
Glazer said he asked a Vernon Hills Park District supervisor what would happen to the campers who attacked him.
The supervisor told him that the incident was “old news,” according to Glazer.
“I took that to mean he wasn’t going to do anything and the campers were going to be okay, and guess what? That’s exactly what happened.”
Glazer said the campers who attacked him were still allowed to participate in camp activities.
“Shame on you, Vernon Hills Park District. You chose not to do anything to these children who hurt one of your own employees who is doing his job for you and yet you’re making me out to be like the bad guy,” Glazer said.
“When I was home recovering after this attack, I got a mysterious email from someone from HR claiming that they had no proof I was supposed to be working the front desk and therefore my employment there was terminated.”
Glazer said he has emails to prove he was supposed to work the front desk when he was hired in May 2023, despite human resources allegedly claiming there is no such record.
Glazer believes he was fired due to the alleged attack and the subsequent police investigation.
Glazer said he tried multiple times to get in contact with a previous supervisor he knew from his two years of volunteering as a basketball coach with the park district, but he never heard back.
“I would hate to think I was being singled out and wasn’t allowed to participate in any activities because of something that was not my fault. But unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened. I’m not allowed to do anything for the park district anymore on their terms because of something that was out of my control, that wasn’t my fault,” Glazer said.
Glazer also attempted to contact Vernon Hills Park District Executive Director Jeff Fougerousse, but he never responded, Glazer said in the video.
“At that point, I decided to reach out to the Vernon Hills Park District Board. I asked for their help in trying to hold someone accountable, trying to get answers, trying to get help. Never heard back either.”
Following the attack, Glazer said he had been keeping contact with his friend – who was one of his camp counselors – but she abruptly stopped communicating with him.
“I later found out that she’s still an employee of the Vernon Hills Park District, and I can’t help but to wonder they made her keep her mouth shut and stop talking to me and they gave her a job to make up for that,” Glazer said.
Glazer said he continues to suffer from physical and cognitive symptoms as a result of the alleged attack, and he worries he will not be able to fully recover.
“Why is this fair that the Vernon Hills Park District gets away with this and I’m stuck here without any answers and no one from the park district is being held accountable for not doing anything, for not disciplining these children?” Glazer asked.
Glazer called for accountability and hopes he can raise awareness because he would “hate for this tragic assault to happen to you, or a loved one, or anybody.”
The Vernon Hills Park District released a statement on Saturday, stating they are “aware of the allegations made by an individual that is making the rounds on various social media platforms.”
“Like all allegations of this nature, the Park District takes this extremely seriously. The Park District began investigating this matter as soon as it was made aware and has been in contact with its risk management agency,” the park district said.
Vernon Hills Park District Executive Director Jeff Fougerousse told Lake and McHenry County Scanner, “It is important to note that the safety of all Vernon Hills Park District staff and participants in park district programs is paramount. That is why, for our youth camps for example, we provide all counselors and directors significant training, including in-person and online coursework focusing on topics that include camper behavior and management and safety measures for campers and staff.”
“These and other standards for park district safety and other operations are among the reasons Vernon Hills Park District was recently re-accredited by the Illinois Distinguished Accreditation program. We continue to operate Vernon Hills Park District according to the highest standards. This matter continues to be under review,” Fougerousse added.
Park district officials did not provide further comment “due to the nature of the allegations and out of respect for the privacy of everyone involved.”
“We wish him well,” Fougerousse said.
The park district’s website for registration states, “A positive approach is used regarding discipline. Staff periodically reviews rules with participants during programs. If inappropriate or unacceptable behavior occurs, prompt resolution will be sought and the Behavior Code of Conduct will be used as a guideline. The Park District reserves the right to remove a participant whose actions endanger the safety of others or himself.”
The park district’s code of conduct outlines five rules, one of which states that participants should “refrain from threatening or causing bodily harm to self, other participants, or staff.”
River Trails Park District Executive Director Bret Fahnstrom told Lake and McHenry County Scanner that they have been cooperating with authorities since the incident was reported at their facility.
“The River Trails Park District values our patrons and takes all such allegations seriously. Nothing is more important to the River Trails Park District than the safety and well-being of staff and patrons and providing a safe environment to engage in recreational activities. We have no further comment on the matter at this time, due to the nature of the allegations and out of respect for the privacy of everyone involved,” Fahnstrom said.
Lake and McHenry County Scanner has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Vernon Hills Park District regarding Glazer and his termination.
A FOIA request has also been filed with the Mount Prospect Police Department for the police report of the alleged incident.