Peloton CEO warns parents after Tread+ machine kills child

A child was killed by a Peloton Tread+ fitness machine in what the company described Thursday as a “tragic accident.”

In an email to Peloton customers, Peloton CEO John Foley acknowledged the death and urged consumers to secure their machines.

“While we are aware of only a small handful of incidents involving the Tread+ where children have been hurt, each one is devastating to all of us at Peloton, and our hearts go out to the families involved,” Foley wrote.

A Peloton spokesperson said in an email: “There are no words to express the shock and sadness everyone at Peloton feels as a result of this terrible tragedy. Out of respect for the family and their privacy, we won’t be sharing any additional information.”

Foley urged consumers to secure their exercise equipment by keeping children and pets away from the machines at all times and by removing the safety keys from the machines when they are out of use.

The Tread+ user manual advises consumers to keep children and animals away from the machines.

In 2019, there were an estimated 22,500 treadmill-related injuries treated at U.S. emergency departments among all ages (of which around 2,000 were children under 8 years of age).

“Children under the age of 16 and persons with reduced physical, sensory, or mental capabilities that impair the safe use of the equipment may not use the Tread+,” the manual reads. “Do not allow children to perform maintenance or to play with the Tread+.”

Patty Davis, a spokesperson for the Consumer Product Safety Commission, or CPSC, said the agency is aware of the death and is investigating.

Davis said that in 2019, the most recent year for which data are available, an estimated 22,500 treadmill-related injuries were treated at American emergency rooms, 2,000 of which were to children under age 8.

“Between 2018 and 2020, 17 fatalities have been reported to CPSC that were associated with the use of a treadmill,” Davis said. “This includes all ages. One of the 17 decedents was a 5-year-old child. Note that reporting is ongoing for the latest three years.”

Davis said the CPSC recommends following manufacturer instructions, removing the safety keys and supervising children around the machines.

“Children can be hurt on moving treadmills. Secure your treadmill so children cannot start them on their own. Cords on treadmills, called shut-off lanyards, can be a strangulation hazard for children. Keep the cords away from kids,” she said.

In a separate incident, first published Thursday on SaferProducts.gov — a public database run by the CPSC — a 3-year-old boy was grievously injured with “significant brain injury” after he was trapped under a Peloton Tread+ machine last month.

A Peloton spokesperson said the company was “relieved to learn that the child is expected to make a full recovery.”

A search of the database showed few reports of treadmill-related injuries involving minors in the past decade. Peloton said it did not know whether a ProductSafety.gov report would be filed for the death publicized Thursday by its CEO, because submissions are voluntary.

It would not be the first treadmill death to gain national attention. In May 2009, Exodus Tyson, the 4-year-old daughter of boxing superstar Mike Tyson, was found tangled in a treadmill cable and died shortly afterward.