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Young boy injured on Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland Paris

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Published: October 30, 2013 at 1:49 PM

Newspapers in Europe are reporting that a five-year-old boy was critically injured on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland Paris today.

According to the U.K.'s Daily Mail, "Emergency services were called when the boy, who has not yet been named, became 'trapped between a platform and a boat.' A Disney spokesman has confirmed the accident happened."

Here's photo of the load/unload platform at Disneyland Paris' Pirates ride:

Disneyland Paris Pirates of the Caribbean load platform

As you can see, safety gates hold back visitors who have yet to board, and there's almost no space between the boat and a dock for even a small child to slip through. If someone were to fall into the water, it would seem to have to be in between boats. The article also quotes the boy as "falling under a machine," which suggests the load belts that boats ride upon as they move through the load/unload area.

Boats on Pirates of the Caribbean move through the rest of the attraction on a current of water propelled by pumps located throughout the ride. No reports yet detail exactly where in the ride this incident happened.

Two years ago at Disneyland Paris, falling rockwork from Big Thunder Mountain Railroad injured five riders, one seriously.

Update: I just posted this to our Facebook page, in response to predictable "let's blame the parents" posts.

Thought for the day: I find it revealing when people rush to put 100 percent of the blame on parents they've never met when something horrible happens to a child, in theme parks or elsewhere. Perhaps it says something about our nature when we so quickly reject compassion and humility when given an opportunity to bully and blame.

Update 2: Statement from Disneyland Paris:

We are deeply saddened by the accident that took place this afternoon in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Our emergency teams were immediately on the scene to provide first aid to the 5-yaear old child. Throughout this difficult situation, our teams are accompanying the child and his family in order to offer any assistance necessary.

Safety is our utmost concern and we are working in close partnership with the authorities to understand what happened. The attraction remains closed until further notice.

Update 3: More detail, from The Telegraph (via comments)

During the ride, the boy leaned back and somehow fell out of his boat and was hit by another just behind. The child’s father immediately jumped out to recover him, but not quick enough to prevent the accident.

“He was stuck between the platform, with his chest compressed, and the boat,” said commander Fabrice Delin of the Codis emergency services for the Seine-et-Marne department, where the park is situated.

This happened at the unload platform.

Update 4: From the comments:

I was there with my son in the boat at the front of the docking area when the boy fell in. We had already moved off past the gates and into the ride and had to tight rope walk back up the wood fencing to get back onto the platform. It took six people to lift the boat off the boy. It is unclear whether he fell off at the front of the boat that was lifted (this boat was still on the tunnel before the exit platform or whether he fell off the back of the one just coming into the exit platform. In either case it appeared that the child should not have been standing to get off the ride yet in either case and I can not see how the ride or the staff were at fault. They acted extremely quickly and calmly, they got him out as fast as they could and administered first aid with medics arriving asap. I really hope the little boy pulls through but it really is a lesson to us all to be vigilant to our children's actions even second guessing what they are going to do next. The tragic events of yesterday are a lesson to us all, my thought and prayers go out to the little boys family and the staff of the ride.

Readers' Opinions

From Neil Trama on October 30, 2013 at 1:59 PM
Maybe the boats were backed up behind the dock waiting to unload and he decided that instead of waiting, he was gonna get up and climb over the boats and then fell? Just a thought...tragic nonetheless.

** Amend to add that upon first reading I thought the kid was 15 but now I see he was 5. Still a possibility but maybe he turned around after unloading and tried to get back on and then stepped between the boats when they were moving into the station?

From 96.246.121.76 on October 30, 2013 at 2:32 PM
I hope the boy recovers. I also hope this doesn't result in crazy lawsuits and new regulations... assuming improper ride design / maintenance was not at fault.
From 68.54.249.80 on October 30, 2013 at 3:30 PM
Could he have stepped on the edge of the boat, and then tipped it a bit, making the space wider, and then fell in? I'm not sure if there is something in place to prevent the boats from tipping, I would hope so, but if not, that sounds pretty feasible. In the real world, I've stepped off tippy rowboats tons of times & could see how this scenario could happen.
From Robert Niles on October 30, 2013 at 4:09 PM
The boats at the load/unload area are resting on wide drive belts. They're not floating at that point, so they wouldn't tip significantly when someone steps on the edge. They'll give a little, as the belts are pliable, but a five-year-old's weight shouldn't be enough to cause the boat even to budge. Good question, though.
From Anthony Murphy on October 30, 2013 at 5:48 PM
Just speaking in general (and I do not know if this was the case in this tragedy- I hope not), but when I visited DLP, I saw many guests put themselves in extreme danger. I saw people climbing up trees to watch the parade, tan feet away from the train (in which the train had to stop), and push other guests into the street inches away from an oncoming bus. I don't know why it is an issue there, but DLP guests tend to break many of the safety rules.

As for the rest of the web, there are many malcontents on every comment board. We luckily seem to not have much on this site. However, you know best on this ride as a former Cast Member. Its pretty much the same as the American Version. I really do not see how this was an issue that Disney could have prevented. There is nothing that can really go wrong mechanically on this attraction. It would appear that the kid did not follow safety procedures.

From 68.54.249.80 on October 30, 2013 at 7:39 PM
Well, I guess I should have poked around a bit for info before submitting my "tipping" comment above. It seems that "...During the ride, the boy leaned back and somehow fell out of his boat and was hit by another just behind. The child’s father immediately jumped out to recover him, but not quick enough to prevent the accident.
“He was stuck between the platform, with his chest compressed, and the boat,” ..."
This is according to the write-up at The Telegraph.
From Wok Creative on October 30, 2013 at 7:28 PM
here is an update

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/world/article/child-critical-after-falling-from-disneyland-paris-ride

with a little more info

From Vaughn Miller on October 30, 2013 at 7:39 PM
A five year old should not weigh enough to cause the boat to tip, however if he was just stepping on and someone much larger stepped on the edge could that have caused enough of a gap to open and cause him to loose his balance. I know that with myself, a larger person, that the boats do rock some when I step in or out.
From 142.197.47.189 on October 30, 2013 at 8:44 PM
It sounds like an unfortunate accident with a child who was anxious to get out of the boat and on to other attractions. Regardless... it is sad when bad things happen, and my thoughts and prayers are with the boy and his family.
From Paul Moreau on October 30, 2013 at 9:29 PM
Sounds like a freak accident, it's never good when someone gets injured at a theme park. Especially when it's a child, and they are there to create memories. Now, the child will just have bad memories. What a terrible thing.
From 109.7.68.22 on October 30, 2013 at 11:59 PM
I was there with my son in the boat at the front of the docking area when the boy fell in. We had already moved off past the gates and into the ride and had to tight rope walk back up the wood fencing to get back onto the platform. It took six people to lift the boat off the boy. It is unclear whether he fell off at the front of the boat that was lifted (this boat was still on the tunnel before the exit platform or whether he fell off the back of the one just coming into the exit platform. In either case it appeared that the child should not have been standing to get off the ride yet in either case and I can not see how the ride or the staff were at fault. They acted extremely quickly and calmly, they got him out as fast as they could and administered first aid with medics arriving asap. I really hope the little boy pulls through but it really is a lesson to us all to be vigilant to our children's actions even second guessing what they are going to do next. The tragic events of yesterday are a lesson to us all, my thought and prayers go out to the little boys family and the staff of the ride.
From Tad Daily on October 31, 2013 at 1:55 AM
Until I read this article, I always felt bad for the kids that had to sit on the inside of a ride. I hated it when I was a child - I always wanted the best seat - the front row, the railing (same thing in an airplane...no one wants the dreaded middle seat -- the guy in control of the window shade never seems to understand your need to see out the tiny window!!) The best view is always the unobstructed one on the sides. (I have no knowledge of this event beyond what I have read here. I do not know if was sitting on the outside of the boat. He very well could have been leaning backwards while sitting or standing in the last row - which raises other issues about the safety of a child standing on the seat in order to see better)

btw...not too worried about any lawsuits..this happened in paris not the US....not nearly as litigious as we tend to be here.

It is very sad and I hope he recovers...Disney and theme parks ARE safe and fun, but this family has a lot to get over now.

From Robert Niles on October 31, 2013 at 7:18 AM
Let's not forget that the primary reason that nations such as France aren't as litigious as the US in a case such as this is that the child will receive all health care and follow-up support at no cost thanks to France's world's-best health care system. The need to find someone to pay for health care costs drives a huge amount of litigation in the US.
From Thomas Caselli on October 31, 2013 at 9:23 AM
It is a terrible accident! Little children do not have the common sense that adults are supposed to have. It seems like, as in any other situation, parents need to watch what their children are doing.
From Anon Mouse on October 31, 2013 at 10:16 AM
You seem to be making things up with the litigation issue of France and the U.S.. The U.S. health care system has nothing to do with it. People can sue in the U.S. regardless of whether they already have insurance and in many cases, people who sue already have insurance. If we assume the French can't sue, it is one less right they don't have.

Now that we have affordable health care, we can be sure that many will get care. (not really).

From 205.188.117.19 on October 31, 2013 at 12:11 PM
You can't blame the parents for this, nor Disney. Kids just do reckless and unexpected things at times.
From Andy Guinigundo on November 1, 2013 at 9:57 AM
In response to Robert's "bullies will bully" commentary. I agree it is never ok to be a troll and bully. And, hearing the witness account, it appears this is perhaps something that could have happened to any of us.

I think it is human nature not necessarily to bully, but rather to insulate and protect oneself from the bad in the world. Many that read this blog are huge Disney fans. Such fans (me?) do not want to believe that our hero in the form of a mouse can do wrong. Moreover, as frequent visitors to mouseland, said guests do not want to admit that bad things happen to good people at the happiest place on earth in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, both things are false - The mouse can, has, and will again do "wrong" and accidents happen.

Again, I don't excuse trolls. I am just trying to ponder why people act like idiots sometimes.

From Samantha Carlson on November 3, 2013 at 3:01 PM
We were on the boat behind and when we heard a man screaming both myself and husband stood to see what was happening. We very quickly realised that the man lying on the platform screaming in to the water was a father desperate to rescue his child.

My husband then jumped forward and up onto the platform along with the man from the row behind us and then into the water. One other man joined them (not six men as previously mentioned) and once the other passengers had quickly climbed off the boat the three of them lifted the heavy boat for the father to sweep his young son out of the water and into a side room. He was limp over his fathers arms, it was dreadful to see.

Our boat was then quickly unloaded but we all had to climb over the seats as our boat was not quite close enough to the full unload area. This is when we saw a First Aider come running through the unload area and thankfully revived the young boy. We were then quickly ushered outside to clear the area.

We went back to the ride (which was closed) the next day to try and find out how the boy was and were thrilled when told he is alive. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and for a full recovery for the young boy.

For those of you making comments on this website and many other websites, please do not judge. This will be a very traumatising time for the family and they will need a lot of support.

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