By now you have no doubt heard the tragic story of Caleb Schwab, the 10-year-old Kansas boy who died last weekend at Schlitterbahn, a water park in Kansas City. Regretfully, Caleb is not the first person to die in a water park. Here are three examples of people who have died in water parks.
Lauren Seitz Picked Up A Brain-Eating Amoeba At A North Carolina Water Park
Lauren Seitz of Westerville, Ohio, was on a church trip to the National Whitewater Center in North Carolina in June of this year, according to Sky News Australia, rafting with her companions in “murky” water. At some point during her trip, her raft overturned, and it was there, while under the water, that the brain-eating amoeba Naegleria fowleri entered her body.
— Olivia Fecteau (@oliviafecteau) June 23, 2016
Authorities believe that the murky water kept the park’s chlorine and ultraviolet light from killing the deadly microorganism. Officials closed the park and thoroughly cleaned and sanitized the water as well as the rafting channels, but for Lauren, it was too late. She died less than a week after contracting the illness
15 People Died, 500 Were Injured At A Fire At Taiwan’s Formosa Fun Coast Water Park
On June 27, 2015, the Formosa Fun Coast park in suburban Taipei, Taiwan, was playing host to Color Play Asia, where revelers would throw colored powder at each other, similar to the Hindu festival of Holi. As hundreds of revelers danced on-stage and hundreds of others danced in a nearby drained pool, a cloud of colored dust was deployed above the crowd.
Unfortunately, several of the relatives were smoking and throwing cigarette butts onto the ground. Authorities believe that a still-burning cigarette ignited the explosive dust; a massive fireball exploded above the revelers, instantly causing severe burns to hundreds.
— Hans Solo (@thandojo) June 28, 2015
When the dust had settled, 15 people had died and over 500 were injured.
Five-Year-Old Charlie Dunn Drowns At An England Water Park, His Parents Are Charged With Manslaughter
In July of this year, 5-year-old Charlie Dunn and his family went for a fun day at England’s Bosworth Water Park, according to the Telegraph. As his parents were packing up the car to leave, Charlie asked if he could go into the water at a park beach one last time. His stepfather gave him permission to do so, believing that he’d be able to keep an eye on the young boy.
Some time later, as Charlie’s mother and stepfather were packing up the car, his mother witnessed a horrifying scene taking place at the beach: Another park visitor, an 11-year-old, was pulling Charlie’s lifeless body out of the water. Charlie was given CPR at the scene, but he died in a hospital a short time later.
His parents were arrested and charged with manslaughter by gross negligence.
So Are Water Parks Safe?
The three water park deaths listed above represent only a short list given as examples. Had the list included every death at a water park to have taken place since commercial water parks have been a thing, this article would be tens of thousands of words long.
Nevertheless, water parks are generally safe as long as you obey safety instructions, stay hydrated, use sunscreen, and keep an eye on your children. According to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, 80 million Americans visit water parks annually, and the news doesn’t tell you about the tens of millions of water park visitors who make it home safe each day.
And while tragic deaths such as that of Caleb Schwab are unfortunate, they do not indicate that water parks are specifically dangerous. Authorities are still trying to figure out what caused Caleb’s death, but in general, as long as you are proactive about your safety and, most importantly, obey safety instructions, you are safe at a water park.
[Image via YanLev/Shutterstock]