‘I will never get a chance to see him grow up or get a chance to see him graduate,’ says mother of boy who died in water park ride accident
David and Sabrina Jaramillo gave an emotional interview to Good Morning America about losing their son Michael, 11, over the weekend due to a malfunction on a ride at Adventureland Park in Altoona. They spoke from the hospital where their oldest son David, 15, is currently in an induced coma from his injuries from the same accident.
The couple and their family were celebrating David’s 16th birthday a week early when the happy occasion became a tragedy while riding the Raging River.
“When it flipped over, all of us were trapped in the safety seat belts,” Mr Jaramillo told Good Morning America in an emotional interview. “I see the silhouettes of my sons trying to grab each other, grab us. They wanted us to help them. We couldn’t do it.”
Everyone on the ride managed to get away safely, aside from David Jr and Michael. Mr Jaramillo described the water as “intense” and “like a suction” to GMA.
After beckoning for help, eyewitnesses and park safety professionals leapt into the water at roughly 7.30pm on 3 July. After they managed to free the two brothers, they were then rushed to hospital. Both were deemed to be critical condition.
Ms Jaramillo expressed her sadness about not being able to see her son become an adult.
She told Good Morning America, “I will never get a chance to see him grow up or get a chance to see him graduate. I feel like Adventureland robbed me of my baby, I’m gonna never get a chance to see him grow up.”
They talked about their youngest son Gus having a hard time coping with the aftermath of the incident, saying he was “scarred”.
“It is a nightmare. He closes his eyes and thinks about the water. When he wakes up, he realizes the nightmare’s true. So there’s no peace,” says Mr Jaramillio.
In statement, Altoona police said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Jaramillo family as they navigate the heartbreaking loss of their child.”
The death of their son marks the second fatality in five years on the Raging River, according to the Des Moines Register. In 2016, Steve Booher died from injuries acquired doing maintenance on the ride. In December 2020, the park settled a wrongful death claim intitiated by his wife Gladys. At the time of his death, the park was fined $4,500 by the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Adminstration, the maximum amount
However, legal counsel Guy Cook for Adventureland asserted that the ride is safe, and told the AP on 5 July, “The ride was inspected by the State of Iowa the day before the incident and was in good working order.”
He also confirmed they were working with the relevant investigative authorities, saying “safety is the number one priority”.