Coroner writes to UK theme parks warning about 'future deaths' after tragic drowning of schoolgirl, 11December 10, 2019
THEME parks must take action to prevent future deaths after an 11-year-old girl drowned on a ride at Drayton Manor, a coroner has warned.
Evha Jannath had been playing a game with pals to see who could get the wettest when she was "propelled" head first into water on the Splash Canyon rapids ride.
An inquest into her death heard how she then tried to climb up a travelator at the end of the six minute ride before plunging into a 12ft pit of water and vanishing from view.
The schoolgirl, who couldn't swim, was found face down in the water "around six minutes later" by a staff member and was rushed to hospital where she tragically died on May 9, 2017.
A jury last month returned a verdict of accidental death following a week-long hearing at South Staffordshire Coroner's Court.
Her heartbroken parents heard during the inquest how staff didn't know how to rescue Evha from the water and there was no life-saving equipment available.
Assistant coroner for South Staffs, Margaret Jones, has now written a Report for the Prevention of Future Deaths to UK theme parks and their operators.
She raised concerns over safety and the park – including a lack of safety warnings over what would happen if visitors failed to stay in the boat.
The coroner also highlighted issues with staff not being trained in water rescue and ride operators having no clear understanding of the emergency procedure if someone fell in the water.
She has now given parks – including Thorpe Park, Alton Towers and Legoland – until January 8 to respond to the issues raised and see what action has been taken.
The coroner, who drew attention to a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) water ride safety notice issued to all theme parks immediately after Evha's death, added: "In my opinion, action should be taken to prevent future deaths and I believe you have the power to take such action."
Evha was visiting the park from Jameah Girls Academy in Leicester when the horror unfolded in front of her screaming classmates.
Drayton Manor's Splash Canyon water ride
- Opened in 1993
- Water rapids-style ride where guests sit in a boat and are sent down a choppy ‘river’
- Consists of 21 boats holding six people each
- The minimum height to ride is 0.9m (2.95ft)
- Anyone under 1.1m (3.6ft) must be accompanied by an adult
She suffered a number of external injuries and internal injuries, including a broken pelvis and organ damage – with the original cause of death given as blunt force trauma to the chest.
But the inquest heard forensic pathologists have since concluded she drowned.
Drayton Manor is being prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive, but will not be charged with gross negligence or corporate manslaughter.
Speaking at the time of her death, Evha's family said their world had been "torn apart".
They added: "Evha was a beautiful little girl who was full of love and always smiling.
"Words cannot describe the pain and loss we feel, we are devastated that we will not see our beautiful little girl again."
The Splash Canyon ride, which opened in 1993, has remained closed since Evha's death.
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