This seems to have been a summer of amusement park accidents. The latest was a drowning death at Paramont’s Great America, down in Santa Clara County:
With six lifeguards on duty, a 4-year-old boy drowned Thursday afternoon in the new “wave pool” attraction at Great America amusement park in Santa Clara.
The victim was spotted by park workers beneath the surface of the water in the Great Barrier Reef pool, an enormous expanse of churning water about half the size of a football field that had opened at the park less than two months ago.
The child was pulled from the middle of the pool at 2:26 p.m. by park security personnel. Lifeguards and paramedics attempted to resuscitate the child before he was transported to Kaiser Hospital in Santa Clara, where he was pronounced dead.
The Santa Clara coroner’s office identified him Thursday night as Carlos Alexnoro Flores of San Jose.
It’s a terrible tragedy for a little life to be snuffed out that way. I’m not blogging about it merely out of a macabre interest. What caught my eye is that the mother is blaming Great America:
Yolanda Flores sat in the garage of a family member’s home in south San Jose on Friday, swathed in black, hugging her remaining 2-year-old son to her chest, and blamed the Great America amusement park in Santa Clara for the drowning of her 4-year-old boy.
Flores disputed key elements of the park’s account of how the tragedy unfolded Thursday at the Great Barrier Reef wave pool, an expanse of churning water about half the size of a football field, where she had let the 4-year-old boy, Carlos Alejandro Flores, play unattended.
Park officials said six lifeguards were on duty when one spotted Carlos around 2:30 p.m. near the middle of the pool, where the water is about 2 feet deep when waves aren’t rolling through. At its deepest point, the pool is 6 feet deep.
Flores, 27, said there were only four lifeguards at the pool at the time and that her 8-year-old daughter, Jasmine, was the one who spotted the boy underwater after he apparently had been there for several minutes.
“That’s a lie that there were six,” Flores said. “There’s four lifeguards there. How can they not see my son? There’s three walking and one sitting. They weren’t doing their job. He was in 2 feet of water. How could he drown?
The mother’s question is, “How could Great America fail to take care of my son?” My question is, “Where was the mother?” This is not a teenager. This is a 4 year old at a crowded water park, with hundreds of people milling around. Well, Mom wasn’t there, and she wasn’t in any great hurry to investigate where her son was, either:
Flores said she had not been in the pool with her son at the time and does not know how he drowned. The 4-year-old had been in the water earlier, got out to eat some chips and went back in, she said.
When he didn’t return within 10 minutes, she said, she became concerned and told her daughter to find him. After Jasmine told her mother she couldn’t see the boy, both started toward the pool, where Jasmine ultimately found him underwater, Flores said. The girl’s screams attracted the lifeguards’ attention, she said.
To do it credit, the Chronicle, from which I’m quoting, above, found someone to say exactly what I was thinking about this bereaved mother:
Bill Avery, an aquatic safety consultant in Orlando, Fla., who formerly worked for several amusement parks, said adult supervision is crucial during water play.
“It gets down to some basic personal responsibility,” Avery said. “People have to remain cognizant when kids are involved, I don’t care what activity they’re involved in. . . . As a father and grandfather, a 4-year-old with me in the water is not going to be more than a handgrip away from me at any time.”
That’s right. In a situation such as the chaos that inevitably attends a warm summer’s day at Great America, or any other water park, it’s not enough to assume that life guards will see you 4 year old, and it’s silly to put your faith in life jackets, or any other protection device. The only way to ensure a 4 year old’s safety in a crowded water situation is to be right there.
Mom’s attacks against Great America may be motivated by a burden of guilt that is understandable only by parents who have lost a child. Nevertheless, her conduct was negligent, and all the guilt-shifting in the world won’t change that. I’m also willing to bet that she’ll find a lawyer who will take on the case, that she’ll sue Great America, and that she’ll get several hundred thousand dollars in Great America insurance money, despite the fact that the negligence was hers and not theirs.
Filed under: Children