Daytona Boy Tragically Dies in Wave Pool
A 6-year-old boy tragically drowned in Daytona Lagoon’s wave pool earlier this year, reported the Daytona Beach News-Journal. According to news reports, the boy’s father told investigators that he wrongly believed his young son was out of the water and was searching for him at a nearby playground on the property. The child was playing with his older brother, who is 9 years old, when the waves started in the pool. The father explained to investigators that he looked away momentarily to tend to his other son. When he looked back again, he only saw his 9-year-old.
A police report on the incident noted the 6-year-old boy was only in his swim trunks. According to Daytona Lagoon, the pool offers lifejackets free of charge and guests who are under 42-inches tall must wear one before entering into the pool. The police report did not note the young boy’s height. Lifeguards performed CPR on the child after he was found but he passed away during a ride to Halifax Hospital.
Wave Pools: Fun, But Risky
The Daytona Lagoon tragedy is not the only incident where someone has fatally drowned in a wave pool in the United States. Earlier this summer:
- a 9-year-old boy was found unconscious in New Jersey’s Sahara Sam’s Oasis and was pronounced dead one hour later at the hospital
- a 19-year-old reportedly drowned in a 10-foot-deep pool at the base of Texas’s Splash Kingdom Family Waterpark’s volcano water slide. He was also pronounced dead at the hospital shortly after the incident
- a 13-year-old was found at the bottom of a pool in Louisiana’s Splash Kingdom Family Water Park and died later at the hospital where he was transported; and
- a 42-year-old was found unconscious in Texas’s BSR Cable Park’s wave pool and died two days later at a local hospital.
Across the country, waterparks have installed wave pools or wave tanks in their facilities to simulate oceanfront conditions through artificial waves for park visitors. A wave pool is a large swimming pool that uses a mechanical device, or alternatively introduces large volumes of water into the pool, to create artificial waves. The water is recycled through a system in the pool to produce the next set of waves. While the size of the waves depends upon the size of the pool and the amount of water simulated, some wave pools can create waves as high as six feet. By their nature and design, wave pools produce large amounts of moving water that can transport an adult hundreds of feet across the pool.
Generally, waterparks like Daytona Lagoon operate on a daily basis without any reports of serious accidents. Unfortunately, there is minimal oversight regarding the industry’s safety record, as accurate information regarding the number of serious injuries is difficult to obtain. That being said, a waterpark owner and/or operator is legally responsible for making sure visitors are not exposed to unnecessary hazards or dangers while visiting the facility. Waterparks must have trained and qualified lifeguards, equipment operators, and other safety personnel in place. It is common, however, for waterparks to employ seasonal workers drawn from local high schools and community colleges. Accordingly, these workers may not be properly trained on safety, including administration of life-saving techniques such as CPR or other first aid. Under Florida law, when an accident or death occurs at a water park like Daytona Lagoon and negligence on the part of the owner, operator, or its employees was the cause, it can be held legally and financially responsible.
”By their nature and design, wave pools produce large amounts of moving water that can transport an adult hundreds of feet across the pool.
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