Parents recount amusement park accident that killed their 11-year-old son

The father of an 11-year-old boy who died following an accident on a popular boat ride at an Iowa amusement park says his son and other family members were trapped by the amusement ride’s seat belts when the boat carrying them overturned.

In an interview that aired Tuesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” David Jaramillo recounted what happened when the boat capsized Saturday night on the Raging River at Adventureland Park in Altoona, Iowa.

“When it rolled over, we were all stuck in the seat belts,” he said. “I see the silhouettes of my sons trying to grab each other, grab us. They want us to help them. We couldn’t do it.

Iowa Theme Park Tragedy:11-year-old boy dies after raft overturns on water

Adventureland’s Raging River:What we know about the accident at an amusement park that killed an 11-year-old boy

Michael Jaramillo died of his injuries on Sunday and another minor was hospitalized in critical condition, the Altoona Police Department said Monday. Two other runners were slightly injured.

“I feel like Adventureland stole my baby away from me,” said Sabrina Jaramillo, Michael’s mother. “I will never have the chance to see him grow up.”

Six people were on board, authorities said. The morning news program reported that all were family members and that Michael’s older brother was the one hospitalized in critical condition.

The cause of the accident – the second fatal incident on the route in five years – is under investigation. The ride uses a treadmill to move large circular rafts through the rapids. After the boat overturned, rescuers and witnesses helped extricate the passengers.

Adventureland said the ride has been closed since the crash and the family park is cooperating with investigators. Lawyer Guy Cook, who represents Adventureland in personal injury cases and helps with the park’s response, said the investigation would be full.

“Safety is the number one priority at Adventureland,” Cook wrote in a text message. “The Raging River ride has been in operation for almost four decades. It’s a safe ride.

The ride first opened during the 2021 season after a state inspection on Friday found it to be in good working order, Adventureland said.

Altoona is a city of 20,000 just east of Des Moines. The park, whose roller coaster can be seen from Interstate 80, expects about 600,000 visitors this year.

In June 2016, seasonal worker Steve Booher, 68, and another worker helping passengers get on and off boats were rocked when the ride started moving unexpectedly. Booher fell onto the conveyor belt about 3 feet down and became trapped between a boat and a concrete side wall, where his head was repeatedly rammed until the ride operator pulled him over. stopped.

Booher died a few days later. An autopsy revealed that the cause of death was head and brain trauma.

The park’s insurer also settled a wrongful death lawsuit last December 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 running even as Booher was injured and patrons yelled at him to stop.

Cook said there was no commonality between the two crashes, but he could not comment on Saturday’s crash until an investigation is complete.

Other Adventureland crashes

Court records show that Adventureland has been sued in recent years by people who were seriously injured on other rides, including slides.

Iowa OSHA records show the agency recently fined Adventureland in 2018, after an employee working on a roller coaster was knocked over by a transformer and fell to the ground when struck by a test drive. The employee was hospitalized with a broken arm. Adventureland settled the security breaches by agreeing to pay $14,500 in 2019.

Harold B. McConnell