July 5, 2021: IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A young boy was killed in a deadly accident on the Raging River Adventureland Park in Altoona, Iowa. Investigators are looking into the cause of the boat accident ride which killed a child Saturday night at the Iowa amusement park when a raft carrying six people flipped over. This is the second deadly incident on the ride in five years.
Michael Jaramillo, 11, died Sunday from his injuries, and another minor remained hospitalized in critical condition, according to the Altoona Police Department. Two other riders suffered minor injuries.
National Water Safety Attorney Jesse Guerra said, “It’s important to follow safety protocols when operating a water park at all times.”
The water ride uses a conveyor belt to move rafts through generated river rapids. After the ride’s raft overturned, emergency responders and witnesses helped to free the riders, and four were taken to a hospital for treatment. Four off-duty Altoona officers and fire medics who were working at the park quickly responded to the situation. Police detectives are working with Adventureland and state inspectors to understand the cause of this accident.
Adventureland, which is privately owned, said the ride has been closed and that the company is cooperating with investigators. Attorney Guy Cook, who represents Adventureland in personal injury cases and is assisting with the park’s response, said the inquiry would be comprehensive.
“Safety is the number one priority at Adventureland,” Cook wrote in a text message. “The Raging River ride has been in operation for nearly four decades. It is a safe ride.” The ride opened for the first time during the 2021 season after a state inspection Friday found it was in sound working order, Adventureland said.
Adventureland Park, whose roller coasters can be seen from Interstate 80, expects around 600,000 visitors this year. The Raging River has been a staple of the park, since 1983. Adventureland advertises the ride as a “great way to cool off with the whole family,” warning it might leave participants soaked.
The Iowa Division of Labor is responsible for conducting safety inspections of amusement rides at least once a year, and Cook said that agency is leading the investigation.
The Raging River ride has been the site of two tragedies in recent years.
In June 2016, employee Steve Booher, 68, and another worker were helping riders in and out of boats when they were jerked off their feet when the ride began moving unexpectedly. Booher fell onto the conveyor belt about 3 feet below and became wedged between a boat and a concrete sidewall. Booher died days later. An autopsy found the cause of death was trauma to the skull and brain.
The Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Adventureland $4,500 for a safety violation, saying the park should install devices to ensure that ride assistants are positioned safely before operators let boats advance.
The park’s insurer last December also settled a wrongful death lawsuit brought by Booher’s wife of 47 years and their adult children for an undisclosed sum. The lawsuit alleged that the ride operator was negligent by prematurely starting the ride in violation of park rules and leaving it in operation even as Booher was down with injuries and patrons yelled at him to stop.
Cook said there was no commonality between the two accidents, but that he could not comment on Saturday’s accident until the investigation is complete.
According to court records, Adventureland has been sued in recent years by people who were seriously injured on other rides, including waterslides.
Iowa OSHA records show the agency most recently fined Adventureland in 2018, after an employee working on a roller coaster was knocked off a transformer and fell to the ground when he was struck by a test ride. The employee was hospitalized with a broken arm. Adventureland settled safety violations by agreeing to pay $14,500 in 2019.
If a child or loved one has been injured or has suffered a wrongful death due to premises or pool accidents, drowning, or another personal injury, contact an attorney who specializes in these cases to review your legal options. You may be entitled to compensation for damages, medical treatments, and lost wages due to the incident.
Lawyers at Carabin Shaw help clients get the care and attention they deserve after a serious incident. Our experienced attorneys represent people and families who have suffered catastrophic injuries and tragic wrongful deaths throughout the US. If a child or a loved one has been injured contact us today.
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