There is no better place to go in the hot summer months than the local waterpark. Waterpark’s have been very popular as no one can resist the lazy waters, the fun slides or even the wave pool. It is a great day spent lounging in your bathing suit, keeping cool and sipping on some lemonade. Just writing about it makes me want to plan our next family trip to the waterpark.
Some are lucky to have one in their back yard, while others will travel a few hundred miles to get to one. The best part is they are usually attached to a regular amusement park, so you get two parks for the price of one! Sounds like a deal of the century. Just like most (if not all) all things in life, there is going to be danger to watch out for. When you think about danger at a waterpark you often think about the normal; kids falling because they are too excited, possible sunburn or even a bee sting. These are all normal hazards that surround any outdoor waterpark.
While even those are things we would want to avoid on a good day, some hazards at waterparks are much more serious and have very dangerous and even fatal results. As of 2015, there were a total of 1,300 waterparks being operated in North America. All of those waterparks so a combined total of about 85 million people on 2015. A much more important number to pay attention to is 4, 200; this is the amount of ER visits related to waterpark injuries. Compared to how many visitors they get each year this doesn’t sound like too many, but when it comes to my family even just 1 is too many.
We have found probably the 15 worst waterpark accidents that everyone should be aware of before they plan that family vacation.
15 Caleb Schwab
We are going to start off with possibly the most graphic and awful case. The Schwab family thought they were just off to a day of fun when they decided to pack up the family and head over to Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City. 10-year-old Caleb and his 12-year-old brother Nathan decided to go on the tallest water park slide, coming in at 170-feet tall.
The slide was called Verruckt, and is German for crazy or insane. Caleb's brother Nathan went down the slide first, and then waited at the bottom for his brother to join him. The boys’ mother, Michelle, heard her elder son yelling that Caleb had “flown off the ride”. She ran immediately to the scene, but was stopped and told to go no further because she “really didn’t want to see what had happened.” Young Caleb was indeed found dead at the bottom of the slide after he flew out of it. It was later confirmed that he had been decapitated. My heart breaks for this family!
14 Hayley Williams
These waterpark accidents are not only happening in North America, they happen all over the world. The results are all the same: heartbreaking. In Pembrokeshire, located in West Wales you will find the Oakwood theme park, which has water park attractions. One ride is called the hydro ride and has been given the title of “Europe’s fastest and wettest” water slide.
Hayley Williams was a 16-year old Sunday school teacher and was described by those close to her that she was a sensible girl who would not have taken risks. Apparently, one day Hayley was feeling a little rebellious and she decided to take a risk that involved going down a 100ft fall on the popular ride. Hayley went on the ride with a 10-year-old boy who survived with minor head injuries. Hayley did not get so lucky, she was airlifted to hospital where she later died.
13 Action Park Fatalities
Action park is a popular waterpark that is located in New Jersey, and is considered to be the most dangerous water park ever. Not a title that any water or amusement park wants to carry, but this is one that deserves it. In less than a decade (that’s 10 years) the park has been responsible for six fatalities; that is 6 deaths!
Action park has a horrible reputation for poor maintenance of their attractions as well as incompetent and ill-trained staff. Luckily, it was forced to close in 1996 after there had been too many drownings to count, a heart attack, an electrocution and even an employee who lost their life from a slide jumping off the track. We are certainly glad that this water park has been shut down, but I wonder why it took so long!
12 Waterworld, USA
A place called waterworld sounds like a whole bunch of fun to me, well that was until I discovered this next little story. Waterworld is located in Concord, California and in the year 1997 it saw one of the worst tragedies that has ever occurred at any water park. A graduation party was being hosted there, and 33 teenagers decided it would be a great idea to all ride a waterslide at once. Now, we know how teenagers can be, but come on!
Due to all the passengers, the ride was being pushed past its limits, it had three times the weight limit pushing down on it, and that is never going to go over well. The slide ended up collapsing and it resulted in 32 of the 33 being injured, and one 18-year-old girl losing her life. An important message to always follow the instructions printed on the side of the ride, they are there for a reason.
11 Discovery Cove
Some water parks have more fun than just wave pools and tall, scary rides. Some of them offer the chance of a lifetime; the opportunity to interact with marine life. I swam with dolphins once and it was such a memorable experience. Discovery Cove is a sister park to SeaWorld Orlando, and this specific park allows guests the chance to interact with all sorts of marine life, including bottlenose dolphins.
During an underwater excursion one day in 2009, one man cut his toe on a piece of coral while swimming with fish. He was a diagnosed hemophiliac, and the cut to quickly turned septic which caused fatal organ damage. It doesn’t always have to be something graphic or grotesque to show how dangerous a waterpark can be. Sometimes, it can be something very seemingly minor that turns a trip to the water park into someone’s last day!
10 Lifeguard Electrocuted
Most people do not plan to go to a waterpark when there are storms in the area, a waterpark in the rain is just no fun. Sometimes, when you add heat and humidity to the mix, you can not always predict the weather as thunderstorms can come at anytime. In 2011, at Adventure Island in Tampa Bay, a lifeguard is being called a hero after he lost his life trying to save other park guests.
An aggressive storm was approaching, a 21-year-old lifeguard made the heroic and fatal decision to climb to the top of a 700 foot tall slide to urge others attendees to leave the area immediately. While he was up there he was sadly struck by lightening and died. Water is an excellent conductor for electricity, it is never a good idea to be near water when lightning strikes.
9 Siam Park
Siam Park is a huge waterpark located in the beautiful Thailand. It has both a regular amusement park and a water park. In 2007, 6 passengers embarked on a flume ride for what they thought would be fun and exhilarating. It was anything but. The flume coaster ended up falling from the top off the hill and plummeted 66 feet directly for the ground.
5 people were injured, and one woman lost her life. The management of the park at the time stated that the reason for the accident was that the park lost power, therefore the water pump that is responsible for keeping the coaster car on the track had turned off. It is important to remember that waterparks are no different than any other park, they are mechanically run and they can malfunction. When they malfunction many feet off the ground, the result can be deadly.
8 My Favourite Ride … Or It Was
One of my favourite rides at any waterpark is a white water rafting ride. It seems to have all the thrills, without any of the dangers of doing it down a lake or river. One of the most popular rides in Australia’s Dreamworld is called the Thunder River Rapids Ride. In 2016, this well loved ride was permanently shut down. This is one of our most recent terrible accidents. The accident involved 4 individuals, all of whom lost their lives.
As the raft was climbing up a track, it crashed into another raft that was stuck at the top. Due to the tracks still moving underneath, it cause the raft to flip over. The rafts they use are not flimsy, air filled rafts, they are pretty heavy duty and can be dangerous. Two male passengers died after they were crushed when the raft flipped and landed one them. Two women lost their lives as they got trapped under the conveyor belt and drowned.
7 An Explosion
We don’t think about explosions when we think about waterparks, but they do happen and our next entry is probably one of the most deadly accidents to occur at a waterpark. It happened at a water park in Taiwan at a local waterpark. The event being held was called the Formosa Fun Coast, and It was a “color play” party.
This is when a starch-based powder is thrown out into the crow in many different colours. This powder is extremely flammable and it caused a massive explosion that was responsible for 15 deaths. It is now considered to be the worst accident of mass injury ever in the town of New Taipei where the park is located. Along with the 15 deaths, there were a total of 508 people left injured and 199 in critical condition. It is always a horrible tragedy when you think that all the attendees were looking for was a good time with their family and friends, and it ended in nothing short of heartbreaking.
6 David Salmon
We have all seen those rides where it is just a rider going down a slide, no matts or rafts or gimmicks. Just the human body and some water. This next story can tell you just what can go wrong with rides like this. It happened on an outdoor water slide located in Austin, Texas, where people will do just about anything to beat the heat. David Salmon decided to go down one of these ‘simpler’ rides, but he built up so much speed going down that he completely sailed over the edge and landed on the rocky ground.
Luckily, Salmon did not lose his life as many others on our list have, but he did suffer some pretty serious injuries. He walked away with only a broken arm and a few fractured ribs, but he knows just how lucky he was to only suffer injuries.
5 Another Lucky Escape
Our next entry is another one that involved a large amount of luck, or God, if you believe in that! The Wave Water Park located in Dublin, California is a relatively new waterpark, they actually had their opening day this year. Opening days are usually fun occasions, where many guests visit to be one of the first few to ride the rides! They are also a park that had a horrendous accident happen on that very day they opened.
A 10-year-old guest was visiting that opening day and decided to ride the Emerald Plunge water slide. The boy flew off the edge of this ride and landed directly on the concrete below. Luckily, he did not fall from a great height, so he was able to walk away with a few cuts and scrapes. The Emerald Plunge has an 80-foot drop, so I know we can all imagine what would have happened if he fell from higher up.
4 Viral Video
With all the cameras and go-pros at our finger tips, it is becoming more and more common that people are taking videos of themselves going down these various water slides. If you do a quick youtube search you can find more videos than you ever thought possible. One such family was going down a tunnel slide on an inflatable raft, while filming, when you can see that the 16-year-old girl actually falls out of the raft. Her friends did not think she was hurt as the ride does not go very fast.
When they had all reached the bottom it was clear to see that something was not right as the young girl started convulsing and was not responding. Turns out she had suffered a spinal injury and was in a temporary state of shock paralysis from the fall. To make matters worse, their where more riders coming down the tunnel behind them. The works all showed immense dedication as they quickly jumped into action!
3 School Trip Death
What would be more fun than going to a waterpark as a school field trip? I know I would have taken that over math lessons any day. A group of school students in the UK went to Drayton Manor theme park on a school trip, and 11-year-old Evha Jannath was very excited. Jannath was riding the Splash Canyon water ride when the boat she was riding in suddenly hit a rock and she was thrown from the ride.
One of her school friends sadly reported that this was to be her last ride before going home, and if they had just not gone on the ride this would not have happened and her friend would still be with her. It is sad when anyone loses their life at an amusement or water park, but it seems ten times more tragic when the soul that is lost is one of a child who really just wanted to have a day of fun with her school friends.
If multiple accidents happen at the same park, we may call that an unfortunate coincidence. What do we call it when they all happen in the same day, or within hours of each other? Or if there are claims that the park itself is haunted. Whether you believe in the paranormal or not, something is going on at the Kings Island amusement park in the US. On June 9th, 1991, one man by the name of William Haithcoat fell into a pond, his two friends attempted to rescue him, when two of the three suffered a fatal, electric shock.
Just one hour later, a 32-year-old woman by the name of Candy Taylor fell from a ride called the Flight Commander and died upon impact. There have been local talk about the grounds the park is located on are haunted by a little girl in a blue dress. We may never know if the little girl had anything to do with these deaths.
1 Almost Blind
A lot of water parks have fun little sections for young children to run around in. They have water guns, sprinkler type attractions to run through and giant buckets that dump water on the little ones below. Even these sections have their dangers as is shown in a particular youtube video. A family with two young boys where hanging out at their local water park when they started to play with a water gun powered by someone turning a wheel.
You can see the younger brother go very close to the opening where the water will come out, when his brother decides to turn the wheel full blast. The young boy gets a powerful water jet directly to his eye. It doesn’t look too bad when you watch the video, but it goes quickly to a shot of the little boy profusely bleeding from his eye. He is rapidly carried by a park employee to first aid, and has had to have multiple doctor’s visits to ensure he can keep his eye sight.
Sources: listverse.com, youtube.com, therichest.com, providr.com, telegraph.co.uk, people.com, sandiegouniontribune.com