Family of 11-year-old who died in Adventureland incident files lawsuit against park

Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 10:54 AM CDT
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ALTOONA, Iowa (KCRG) - The family of the 11-year-old boy that died after a raft on the Raging River at Adventureland flipped over last year has filed a lawsuit against the park.

Michael Jaramillo, 11, who was a student at Linn-Mar, died after a raft on the ride capsized, pinning the riders underwater. Michael’s older brother David was seriously injured in the incident, spending a month in the hospital. David Sr., the father, shattered his shoulder attempting to lift the raft after it flipped.

On Thursday, the Jaramillo family filed a lawsuit alleging that no staff from the park came to help and the ride was allowed to continue to operate, with thousands of pounds of water continuing down the river despite the parents’ screams for help.

The lawsuit says Adventureland knew the Raging River ride had experienced mechanical issues before and even the morning of the accident, including rafts hitting the bottom, but the ride kept running. It also claims employees staffing the ride were not trained properly and could not respond quickly to the raft flipping. And it says Adventureland had locked gates that delayed ambulances and firefighters from reaching the Jaramillo’s sooner.

The lawsuit does not make a specific demand but is claiming damages for the death of Michael and injuries to his brother and parents - as well as for the trauma to his family.

A state report from July 2021 showed the raft had at least one air bladder deflated. The raft the Jaramillo’s were on was reportedly removed, fixed and back in service about an hour and 45 minutes before the incident.

However, investigators said the raft, “immediately began taking on water as the ride began.”

An attorney for Adventureland said air bladder problems or taking on water does not explain how the 1,700-pound raft with a metal plate on the bottom capsized.

In November 2021, KCCI reported inspectors with the Iowa Division of Labor found 17 separate safety violations with the ride, including improper repairs and inadequate records documenting the history of repairs, ride training and daily ride inspection forms.

In response to that report, Adventureland’s attorney said there were factual errors and comments unrelated to the accident.

The Raging River Ride was closed in July 2021 following the incident, and it remains closed in 2022. The state’s report listed 11 issues in need of addressing before the ride can legally reopen.

Adventureland has since been purchased by Palace Entertainment.

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