What was supposed to be a memorable day of family fun has turned into a tragedy no one will ever forget.
The Jaramillo family — David, Sabrina, sons David and Michael and Gus, and niece Mila — celebrated their 4th of July weekend (and young David’s upcoming 16th birthday) with a trip to the Adventureland theme park in Altoona, Iowa.
The family of five were on the Raging River ride when tragedy struck. The ride simulates taking a boat ride over wild rapids, but it’s supposed to be safe, even for young children. However, the family’s boat suddenly flipped — and their safe little boat became a deathtrap.
In an interview with Good Morning America on Tuesday, father David recalled the traumatic event:
“When it flipped over, all of us were trapped in the safety seat belts.”
Both parents, their youngest son Gus, and their niece were able to free themselves from the safety belts and swim to the surface. However, 15-year-old David and 11-year-old Michael both became trapped by their belts and couldn’t escape. Their father described the horrific moment under the water:
“I see the silhouettes of my sons trying to grab each other, grab us. They wanted us to help them. We couldn’t do it.”
David says the power of the artificial rapids was too much for him to save his sons:
“I’m drowning. The river was so intense, it was like a suction.”
The family screamed for help, and first responders on the scene leapt in right away to free the two boys and rush them to the hospital. But it was too late.
Teenage David is still in a medically-induced coma; his little brother Michael (pictured above) passed away. Just 11 years old.
The rest of the family suffered minor injuries. But the psychological damage may be permanent, especially for the Jaramillos’ youngest son, Gus. David explained:
“He’s scared. It is a nightmare. He closes his eyes and thinks about the water. When he wakes up, he realizes the nightmare’s true. So there’s no peace.”
We cannot even imagine.
Speaking about the loss of her child, Sabrina Jaramillo told the outlet:
“I will never get a chance to see him grow up or get a chance to see him graduate… I feel like Adventureland robbed me of my baby. I’m gonna never get a chance to see him grow up.”
As for that statement about Adventureland… well, the park is apparently cooperating with investigators who are trying to get to the bottom of the incident. However, they are NOT ready to take any responsibility for the injuries or the fatality. Attorney Guy Cook released a statement on behalf of the park to ABC News, saying:
“The Raging River ride has been in operation for nearly four decades… It is a safe ride… The ride was inspected by the State of Iowa the day before the incident and was in good working order.”
Wow. A “safe ride.” We’d say tell that to the family of the dead child, but they literally are doing that. Just gearing up for the inevitable lawsuit, we guess?
This is the second death on the ride in five years, but Cook insists the two are not connected in any way as the 2016 casualty occurred when an employee fell into the ride’s conveyer belt and fractured his skull. Saturday was the first time the ride had been operational since shutting down in 2020 for the pandemic.
If YOU want to do something to help the poor family, there’s a GoFundMe set up by the Jaramillos’ church to “help ease the financial burden of a very tragic time.” They’ll surely have some serious medical bills with a child in a coma, not to mention funeral services. As of this writing, they’ve raised over $33,000. You can help out HERE.
Sending positive wishes to the family and hoping for a speedy recovery for young David.
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