Waterparks and waterpark resorts are reeling after a
series of drownings this summer. In the aftermath, many
parks and local jurisdictions are rethinking their
A 4-year-old boy drowned in the wave pool at Great
America in Santa Clara, Calif., on July 12, prompting park
owner Cedar Fair to require life vests for children under
48 inches at all of its parks.
A 6-year-old boy was found under a slide in 4 feet of
water at the Swimmin? Hole waterpark in Joplin,
Mo., on July 17. He was with a group of 30 children from
the Boys and Girls Club of Southwest Missouri when the
incident occurred. Municipal pools and waterparks are not
regulated by the state, said Bob Kulp, director of the
Newton County (Mo.) Health Department. He?s hoping
to adopt an ordinance and begin regulating
?everything short of the private pool in
And an 8-year-old girl died July 22 after being pulled
from a 3-foot-deep lazy river at Lake Waldo?s Beach
Campground in Fayetteville, N.C. Lifeguards tried to revive
her, then she was placed on life support, but she passed
away the next day.
Two other accidents occurred in wave pools. An
11-year-old visiting on a school trip died in the wave pool
at Bingemans Amusement Park in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.
A 16-year-old nearly drowned in the wave pool at Oceans of
Fun in Kansas City, Mo., on July 12. He was pulled out by a
lifeguard and treated immediately. He survived without
In California, Sen. Elaine Alquist is proposing a bill
to make wave pools safer, including requirements for the
number of lifeguards, the use of life vests for children,
and a signal to alert patrons when the wave pool would be
Two separate incidents at waterpark hotel resorts also
took place. A 4-year-old boy drowned on June 8 at the
Wilderness Resort in the Wisconsin Dells, Wis., even after
a lifeguard asked the supervisor twice
whether she should retrieve the child, according to police
reports. The supervisor thought the child was playing and
said that guests get angry when guards rush into the pool
for a nonemergency, the reports stated.
An incident at the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg,
Va., on June 19 involved a 4-year-old girl. Though she was
rescued and revived, she died later at Children?s
Hospital of the King?s Daughters in Norfolk,
Great Wolf Resorts could not comment on the drowning
during investigations, spokesperson Jennifer Beranick said.
However, it is considering looking over its procedures
again. ?We have started to re-evaluate everything
we do,? she said.
Experts say that continuous training and auditing are
key to maintaining a sharp lifeguard staff.
?It?s really difficult [to stay focused] in
a waterpark setting with all the heat and the noise and
humidity,? said Alison Osinski, president of
Aquatic Consulting Services in San Diego. She suggested
using video surveillance in crowded pools.