Safety concerns have waterpark operators on their toes, with several facing lawsuits following incidents spanning the past two years.
Perhaps the most tragic summer 2008 waterpark accident to date is the death of a 19-year-old female. According to reports, she was complaining of headache, memory loss and nausea after hitting her head on a water slide at Golfland Sunsplash waterpark in Mesa, Ariz. Investigators had not yet linked the injury to her death.
A day at the Rapids Water Park in Riviera Beach, Fla., turned tragic, twice. A family of four was hospitalized for injuries sustained riding Black Thunder. Their raft tipped over on the way down. Follow-up inspections found nothing mechanically wrong with the slide.
A day later, Samantha Manners, 11, was hospitalized for severe back bruises after riding a corresponding slide. She rode with her parents. Her father, Harold Manners, has filed a complaint with Florida's Bureau of Fair Rides Inspections.
Inspectors have said both incidents were likely the result of riders exceeding designated maximum weight limits.
"Waterparks [remain one of] the safest places for families to play together in the water," said Rick Root, president of the World Waterpark Association. Overall, the number of injuries reported this season seems "on par with prior years," he added.
But these injuries do make waterparks targets for lawsuits. Here's a rundown:
- Adventure Island, Tampa, Fla. Operator Busch Entertainment is being sued for $90,000 by a man claiming he was injured on the children's slide in 2006.
- Disney's Typhoon Lagoon, Orlando, Fla. The family of a 15-year-old girl is suing Disney for injuries she sustained after riding the park's 35-foot-high water coaster.
- Raging Rivers Water Park, Grafton, Ill. A mother is suing for damages in excess of $200,000. She alleges that in 2006, her son sustained mouth injuries on a ride at the park.
- Six-Flags Hurricane Harbor, Arlington, Texas. A woman claims she broke her foot on a water slide in July 2007.