Park of the Week: Islands of Adventure

River Rapids Accident at Iowa Park Claims One Rider

July 5, 2021, 12:47 PM · An accident on a river rapids ride at an Iowa theme park has claimed the life of one rider, the park has reported.

Four riders of the six on a raft on Adventureland's Raging River were hospitalized after the raft overturned Saturday evening, the park said. The park reported last evening in a statement on its Facebook page that one of those riders had passed away.

"Adventureland is working closely with both the State and local authorities, and would like to thank them again for their efforts. At this time, we ask for your thoughts and prayers for the Guest and their family, as well as for our team members who were onsite."

The park said previously that Raging River had passed an inspection on Friday. It is unclear at this point what caused the raft to capsize.

The Des Moines Register points out that Raging River also was the site of a fatal accident in 2016, when a park employee fractured his skull on the ride's conveyor belt.

Altoona, Iowa's Adventureland is not one of the nation's top parks in terms of attendance, but Theme Park Insider reader AJ Hummel posted a detailed trip report from Adventureland in 2019, if you'd like to learn more about the park and its rides.

Update The Altoona Police Department has identified the victim as 11-year-old Michael Jaramillo. One other child remains in critical condition. Here is the department's statement.


Replies (4)

July 5, 2021 at 12:57 PM

Is this similar to the event in Dreamworld Australia? I hope this doesn’t spell the end of river rides

July 6, 2021 at 8:35 AM

ChadH, i was thinking the same thing, not the accident itself but re: the end of river rides. water rides, in general, seem to be on the way out, which is a shame since they can really come in handy on super hot summer days. such a tragedy this incident happened and i can't imagine the grief the family is going through and the park too. hopefully, the new generation of power splash rides will solve these issues.

July 7, 2021 at 2:57 PM

It's natural to extend thoughts and prayers to the victim and their family. I liked that they also mentioned employees in their statement.

I work in a casino, and recently had a guest suffer a massive heart attack at a slot machine, and I had 911 walking me through CPR (which has changed since I first became certified in CPR, so I was glad for the help over the phone with the dispatcher).

I've been in three situation where someone's life was literally in my hands to save, and it's stressful as heck. It's a thing that sticks with you, no matter the outcome. The first time, it was a kid who came back. This was when I was a cast member at Disneyland. When he started coughing and breathing I felt a surge of relief. The second time was also at Disneyland, about two weeks later. I had just gotten in position to start CPR when one of my managers physically yanked me away and took over because he was in the area and knew how the first event had affected me. I don't know how this one turned out, and maybe that's for the best.

The third was the casino guest, and he was still unresponsive when put into the ambulance. I got a few updates since them -- the first saying that he was still alive somehow, the second that he was responsive and talking, but then I got a third update that he was refusing the heart surgery that could save his life (three arteries were 90% blocked) and he was just going to say his goodbyes and let things take their course. I haven't asked for any more updates since hearing that, because if he hasn't died yet, he soon will. But I don't want that update. His life was in my hands for a small period of time, and he lived for at least a couple of weeks, but I don't want to hear about his death. I did what I could, and it breaks my heart that he has chosen to die after everything I, along with Sheriff's Deputies and Paramedics who showed up not long after I started CPR, did to try to save him. I will never forget the shade of purple on that man's face when I found him slumped over his slot machine and the 911 dispatcher told me I needed to pull him out of his scooter and get him on the ground to start CPR.

When you have someone close to death (or dead) and you're involved, it hangs on you. It's something you never forget (the fact that the most recent person I tried to help a few weeks ago is going to die, if he hasn't already, is tearing me apart with emotions). So I'm glad this park acknowledged the team members that were involved in this. Because I can almost guarantee that this is wreaking havoc on their emotions almost as much as it is on the family of the victim.

Pardon me while I go cry for a while.The last person I gave CPR to is still fresh in my mind and it's still hitting me hard. I've gotten "good job" and "way to go" from bosses, but none of them seem to get how much it's emotionally affected me like the Disneyland manager got it and pulled me off the guy a week later to order me backstage and take over.

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