Iowa amusement park permanently closes ride boy died on

An Altoona, Iowa, amusement park has decided to permanently close a ride that an 11-year-old boy died on in 2021. Michael Jaramillo drowned on the Raging River ride at the Adventureland Resort when the raft carrying his family flipped over, according to the Associated Press.

Other family members were also injured and Michael’s parents sued the amusement park as well as the manufacturer behind the raft ride in 2022, according to court documents obtained by CBS News. The lawsuit is ongoing.

In a letter posted on the park’s website, General Manager Bill Lentz announced the ride would close.

“We implemented changes in our operations throughout the resort, always with an emphasis on safety as the most important element,” Lentz wrote. “On that note, I want to share that we have decided to permanently close the Raging River attraction. The decision comes after months of examination of the ride, working closely with its manufacturer to identify what enhancements each would need to meet our operating standards.”

The “beloved log ride,” will be succeeded by “a next-generation super flume ride” called the Draken Falls, Lentz said.

In the Jaramillos’ lawsuit, the family claims the park continued to operate on the day of the accident and that the park had failed properly maintain and repair rides, including the Raging River, for years, according to the AP.

At the time, Adventureland Park officials said in a statement to CBS News that the ride was closed during the investigation. “Adventureland is saddened to learn of the passing of one Guest involved in the Raging River accident on the evening of 7/3/21,” officials said in the statement.

When the incident happened, the ride had just reopened to the public for the first time since 2020 and underwent a full inspection first, park officials said, according to CBS affiliate KCCI. Six people were on the raft when it flipped. Because the ride is far from the park entrances, fire officials had a hard time getting to it.

Lance Routson with the Altoona Fire Department said when units responded to the scene, they had to walk 200 to 300 yards to get to the ride. “The closest (walked) maybe about a hundred. That’s the closest we could actually get an apparatus there, and they would have to walk the rest of the way and carry their equipment and so forth back,” Routson said.

The Jaramillos’ suit also names Adventure Lands of America, the park’s former parent company, and its former CEO Michael Krantz as well as three managers. “All actions or failures to act by the stated officers and managers occurred during their employment by Adventure Land, and within the scope of their employment,” the suit reads, according to the AP.

Lentz became general manager in April, according to the park.

In a statement to CBS News, the Jaramillos’ lawyer, Fred Dorr, said the ride never reopened after the incident. “The fact that the new Adventureland owner, following an extensive safety and operational review, has now decided to shut the Raging River ride down permanently, confirms our earlier intensive investigation that the ride was unsafe the day the Jaramillo family was placed on it,” Dorr said.

He said the state will soon be added as a defendant to the lawsuit because officials had six months to investigate a tort claim filed against it, and that period will be over in March.

Guy Cook, a lawyer representing the park, says trial has been set for March 11, 2024. “Adventurelands of America and the former owners have denied the allegations of negligence,” Cook said, adding that the ride was inspected by a state inspector the day before the accident and no violations were found.

“Moreover, consistent with annual pre-opening safety inspections and sign-offs by state inspectors over nearly 40 years of operation, there have been no near-misses, no serious accidents and no fatalities of any park guests on the Raging River ride,” Cook said.

Dorr said in his statement that the ride was deemed unconditionally safe and ready for park patrons before it reopened in July 2021, but following Michael’s death, it was reinspected and 17 safety violations were found.

CBS News has reached out to the amusement park for more information and is awaiting response.

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