A heartbroken family has sued the state of Iowa after their 11-year-old son was killed in a water park ride that reported 17 safety violations.
David and Sabrina Jaramillo brought their children, Gus, Michael, 11, and David Jr., 16, to Adventureland in Des Moines for their eldest son’s birthday on July 3, 2021.
Things took a tragic turn after the family of five went on the Raging River cruise along with the parents’ niece, Mila.
After everyone was strapped into the ride and released into the man-made rapids, their raft overturned, leaving the family trapped underneath as water rushed through.
“I see the silhouettes of my sons trying to grab each other, grab us,” David Sr. told Good Morning America.
“I’m drowning,” he continued. “The flow was so intense, it was like a suction.”
While parents Gus and Mila managed to escape, Michael and David Jr. were still stuck.
The family cried out for help as the rides continued, pushing water and rafts down the river, KWWL reported.
Workers and a bystander reportedly managed to pull the two boys out of the water.
However, their efforts were not enough to save Michael’s life and his older brother sustained serious injuries that left him in the hospital for a month.
The family claimed the ride was faulty and improperly maintained, causing the early death of their 11-year-old.
On Wednesday, the family filed a lawsuit against the state of Iowa for $98 million in damages.
“The state of Iowa’s negligence is a proximate cause of all damages sustained by the Jaramillo,” the family’s attorneys said in the lawsuit.
The Raging River ride was closed for most of the 2020 season, with the exception of two weeks, due to computer problems.
The original control panel from the 1980s was broken. This panel releases the rafts, moves the conveyors when loading and unloading, and manages the water pumps.
The ride reopened the day the Jaramillos arrived, and the day before, on July 2, State Inspector Bruno Burriola determined the ride was safe and compliant.
Burriola’s inspection report did not mention the major changes made to the ride in order to reopen it.
After the accident, the Iowa Division of Labor inspected the ride again on July 6.
The report found Adventureland violated 17 safety standards on the ride, including improper repairs and inadequate records documenting history of repairs and training.
“The Raging River ride would not have operated in its unsafe condition on July 3, 2021 if any of the seventeen safety violations had been determined and Michael Jaramillo had been alive,” the lawsuit alleged.
“Additionally, if the state had required the proper safety planning and precautions, Adventureland staff and rescue workers would have been more quickly able to assist the Jaramillo family after the raft capsized.”
GO TO ADVENTURE LAND
The Jaramillo family also sued the amusement park in June for an unspecified sum.
The family claimed that Adventureland workers only came to help until the boys were out of the water.
Adventureland “failed to properly maintain and repair its attractions, including the Raging River ride,” according to the lawsuit.
On the day the ride opened, there were reportedly several equipment failures, including electrical problems that caused the water pumps to not work properly.
The lawsuit also claims employees couldn’t even see the full ride, which the original manufacturer said was crucial.
The workers “can only see the beginning and end of the ride, leaving significant blind spots as the rafts move through the ride,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit targets the company that owned the park, Adventure Lands of America, former CEO Michael Krantz, and three executives.
Krantz’s family owned the company, which had operated the park since the 1970s before it was sold to Palace Entertainment late last year.
“All of the acts or omissions of the named officers and managers occurred during their employment with Adventure Land and in the course of their employment,” the lawsuit states.
Guy Cook, the defendants’ lawyer, told The US Sun in a statement: “Sadly, the tragic accident at Adventureland Park was the result of a number of extraordinarily unusual factors coming together.
“The allegations in the lawsuit are specifically addressed in court filings. It is important that allegations are not facts.
“For nearly 40 years, every ride at Adventureland Park has been subject to a detailed annual safety inspection by the State of Iowa and rigorous daily inspections by park maintenance and ride operators. This includes the ride on the Raging River.
“Safety is and always has been the top priority at Adventureland.”
“STOOLE ME OF MY BABY”
David Sr. and Sabrina are heartbroken after the unexpected loss of their baby boy.
“I’ll never get a chance to see him grow up or see him graduate,” Sabrina told GMA.
She broke down in tears as she said the family-owned Adventureland “robbed me of my baby”.
“He was just taken away from us,” added David Sr. “Love your children. You just don’t know when they’ll be taken from you.”
“His heart was bigger than him,” he said of his son.
In a breakdown of the money the state is seeking in the family’s lawsuit, $12.1 million is for Michael’s estate and the remainder for his parents, brother and cousin, who were also injured in the accident.
The US Sun reached out to the Iowa Attorney General, who will investigate the family’s claims, but has received no response as of publication.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6153162/jaramillo-family-sues-iowa-raging-river-adventureland-death/ The family of Michael Jaramillo, 11, are suing the state after his death in a horrific accident involving a water park ride while they were watching