Five Dead Following Drowning Accidents at Waterparks

Every summer, many of us take our families to a nearby waterpark for a day of fun while avoiding the summer’s heat. Tragically, some of these outings will end in an injury or even an accidental drowning death.

In today’s post, the drowning and aquatic accident injury lawyer at The Doan Law Firm will review five recent accidental drowning deaths that have occurred at waterparks. He will then discuss an important legal issue that could arise in such drowning accidents before closing with suggestions for those who have lost a family member to a waterpark drowning accident.

The Accidents

On Saturday, August 3rd, an unnamed 6-year-old male was found unconscious in a wave pool at the Daytona Lagoon waterpark in Daytona Beach, Florida. According to early reports, the boy was found unconscious in the wave pool but could not be resuscitated by lifeguards and died enroute to a Daytona-area hospital.

At about 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 30th, 9-year-old Hersh Meilech Grossman of Brooklyn (NY) was found unconscious in a pool at Sahara Sam's Oasis, an indoor water park in Berlin, New Jersey. Although lifeguards at the facility were reported to have started CPR as soon as the child was removed from the water, he could not be revived and was pronounced dead an hour later at a local hospital.

On Sunday, July Sunday 28th, Emmanuel Ogunfuwa, 19, was reported to have drowned in a 10-foot deep pool at the base of the “Volcano” waterslide at the Splash Kingdom Family Waterpark in Canton, Texas. Although CPR was initiated as soon as he was removed from the water, Ogunfuwa was pronounced dead a short time later at a local hospital. Details of the accident, including how long he had been in water and his swimming skills, have not been published.

The previous Thursday (July 25th) Kendall Williams, 13, was found face-down in the bottom of a pool at the Splash Kingdom Family Waterpark in Shreveport, Louisiana. According to published reports, Williams was seen to have gone underwater while swimming and did not resurface. Although he was immediately rescued, he could not be revived and was pronounced later pronounced dead after being transported to a Shreveport hospital. As is the case with Emmanuel Ogunfuwa, above, no other details have been published.

At about 10:00 p.m. on July 4th, 42-year-old Christopher Hayes was found unconscious in the wave pool at the BSR Cable Park in McLennan County (Waco), Texas. Although rescuers were able to restore Hayes’ pulse, he did not survive his injury and died two days later at a Waco hospital.

What is a “wave pool?”

The waterparks mentioned in the previous section, with the exception of Daytona Lagoon, are located in areas that are located some distance from ocean beaches or some other large body of water. In order to simulate oceanfront conditions, some waterparks have installed wave “tanks” or wave “pools” to create artificial surf conditions for their patrons.

According to the Wikipedia entry for “wave pool,” a wave pool is a type of large swimming pool that uses some type of mechanical device to create “… reasonably large waves, similar to those of the ocean.” Those pools designed to produce the largest possible waves usually produce waves by using an “accordion” or “bellows” device to compress and release the pool’s water. In other wave pools, large volumes of water are suddenly introduced into the pool which, in turn, produces a wave. The water is then “recycled” through a system of drains and intake tubes to produce the next wave. Depending on the size of the pool and the amount of water introduced, some pools are capable of producing waves of up to 6 feet in height using the latter technique.

Are wave pools safe?

Although wave pools are recent additions to most waterparks, their safety record has been less than enviable.

By their physical nature, wave pools produce relatively large amounts of turbulent water that is capable of moving an adult over a distance of several hundred feet. Furthermore, since the water used to create the wave must be reused, the process used to recover water for its next use can easily create enough pressure to trap an unwary swimmer in a high flow-pressure situation from which it would be almost impossible to escape.

When the first wave pool opened at Action Park in Vernon, New Jersey in the early 1980s there were at least 3 deaths reported before the facility was later closed following a long series of wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits.

Are waterparks safe?

In most cases, waterparks operate daily without serious accidents being reported. Unfortunately, since there is little oversight of the waterpark industry’s safety record, accurate data regarding the actual number of serious injuries involving a waterpark patron is almost impossible to obtain. Regardless of the availability of such information, our drowning and aquatic accident injury lawyer has identified two areas where waterpark and wave pool operators are known to have been negligent in previous accidents.

Inadequate supervision of swimmers and waterpark visitors

A waterpark owner is responsible for ensuring that visitors are not exposed to unnecessary danger while at the facility. This means that the owner must provide qualified lifeguards, equipment operators, and other personnel whose sole job is visitor safety. However, it is a documented fact that many waterpark and wave pool operators employ seasonal workers that are drawn from the local high school and college communities and that many such individuals possess only minimal, if any, formal training in water safety or first aid. If such an individual is “on duty” when an accident occurs, and that individual should have acted to prevent an accident, both he and the waterpark owner may be liable for the consequences of an accident.

Use of waterpark / wave pool equipment that is known to be dangerous

As we mentioned earlier, wave pools can be dangerous by the physical requirements of generating waves. This danger also extends to waterpark attractions such as water slides, “lazy rivers,” and to other attractions that rely on a water depth that is greater than the height of most children and young adults. Since such depths are often linked to accidental drowning deaths, a waterpark owner could be held liable if water depth can be shown to have played a role in an accident.

Contacting a waterpark accident injury lawyer

If a member of your family has been injured in a drowning accident, whether in a waterpark, wave pool, or at a public recreation facility, we invite you to contact the drowning and aquatic accident injury lawyer at The Doan Law Firm, a national personal injury law practice with offices located throughout the country.

When you contact our firm, your case review and first consultation with our drowning and aquatic accident injury lawyer is always free and does not obligate you hiring us to act as your legal counsel. Should you decide to file a lawsuit against those responsible for your injuries or other losses,  and that you would like to have us represent you in court, we are willing to assume full responsibility for all aspects of preparing your case for trial in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of the final settlement that we will win for you.