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11-year-old boy dies after raft capsized while on water ride at Iowa theme park

DES MOINES – An 11-year-old boy died Sunday after he and three others were injured while on a water ride at Adventureland Park in Altoona.

Michael Jaramillo, 11, died on Sunday of his injuries, Altoona police said on Monday. Another child is still in critical condition, and two others suffered minor injuries.

Six riders were on a Raging River raft when it overturned around 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, the park announced in a Facebook post. Four drivers were rushed to the hospital and the park said Sunday night that it was “sad” to learn that one had died.

The drive is closed and park officials said they are working with authorities.

Police spokeswoman Alyssa Wilson said detectives worked with Adventureland and state inspectors “to understand this tragic accident.”

Adventureland advertises the Raging River attraction as a “great way to cool off with the whole family,” warning it might leave participants soaked. Riders are sent through rapids on large circular rafts using a conveyor belt. It’s been a staple of the park since 1983, when then-Gov. Terry Branstad took one of the inaugural rides.

A state inspection on Friday found it was in sound working order, said attorney Guy Cook, who represents Adventureland in personal injury case and is assisting with the park’s response.

Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the theme park $4,500 after Booher’s death, the maximum the agency could assess for that type of violation.

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.

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

Court records show 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.


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