Michael Jaramillo died Sunday after an accident at Adventureland Park in Idaho left him hospitalized. The 11-year-old boy, along with three others, was injured on Saturday while riding a water ride at Adventureland in Altoona. Another child is in critical condition and two others suffered minor injuries.
Jaramillo and five other parkgoers were riding on the Raging River raft ride when it overturned Saturday night. Four children were rushed to the hospital after the 7:35 p.m. incident, and the Raging River ride has since been closed by authorities.
On Facebook, Adventureland issued a statement, explaining that “at approximately 7:35 p.m. on 7/3/21 a boat on the Raging River ride overturned with 6 riders on it. 4 guests were transported to a local hospital with injuries, 3 critical and one minor.” According to the amusement park, both authorities and park officials are working closely together to understand what happened and better assess the reason for “this tragic incident.”
“Altoona Fire and Police were on property and responded immediately,” Adventureland said in a Facebook post. “We want to thank them as well as Des Moines, Ankeny, Bondurant, Pleasant Hill and Delaware Township Emergency Services for their fast response.”
Park officials noted that the ride was inspected one day before the incident unfolded. The inspection concluded that the Raging River ride was “in sound working order,” however “it will remain closed for a thorough inspection,” following Michael Jaramillo’s death.
“Our thoughts are with the affected families at this time,” Adventureland said in its statement. The amusement park is also “saddened to learn of the passing of one Guest involved in the Raging River accident.”
“This investigation is ongoing and the ride remains closed,” Adventureland said in a second Facebook post. “Adventureland is working closely with both the State and local authorities and would like to thank them again for their efforts. At this time, we ask for your thoughts and prayers for the Guest and their family, as well as for our team members who were onsite.”
Michael Jaramillo’s death is not the first time someone tragically died because of the Raging River ride. Though it is advertised as a “great way to cool off with the whole family,” the ride has a dangerous history. Steve Booher, a 68-year-old employee of Adventureland, died in 2016 while working on the ride.
Booher had only worked six days on his summer job and was helping riders exit the raft when he fell onto the conveyor belt. The father and husband fractured his skull and died four days later. Adventureland settled a wrongful death lawsuit last December with Booher’s wife and their adult children for an unknown sum.
According to the Des Moines Register, Iowa’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration tacked on a $4,500 fine for Booher’s death, which is the maximum penalty for that kind of violation. The park’s personal injury lawyer, Guy Cook, is assisting with the park’s response to Michael Jaramillo’s death and the three other injuries on the Raging River ride.
“Safety is the number one priority at Adventureland,” Cook told the Associated Press in a text message. “The Raging River ride has been in operation for nearly four decades. It is a safe ride.” Cook also explained that there was no commonality between the 2016 incident and Saturday’s tragic accident. The attorney admitted that he couldn’t say any more until the investigation was complete.
The Altoona Police Department said in its statement that “our thoughts and prayers are with the Jaramillo family as they navigate the heartbreaking loss of their child,” and that “Altoona Detectives are working with the State Inspector and Adventureland Park to understand this tragic accident.”
On the amusement park’s website, the Raging River ride promises that “you will get wet, possibly soaked on this river rapids ride,” though all riders must meet the 3-foot height requirement to be eligible to ride.