A Saturday trip to Adventureland Park in Altoona, IA, ended in tragedy for Michael Jaramillo and his family in July of 2021.
Michael and his family, six persons in total, were strapped into a raft on the Raging River water ride when the vessel suddenly capsized as it flowed down the "river." Four of the raft's passengers were able to free themselves after the raft turned over; Michael and his 15-year-old brother David were not. The two young boys were submerged under the ride's turbulent waters for an unknown length of time before they were freed.
Four of the victims of the water ride accident had to be transported by emergency responders to Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines. Two suffered only minor injuries and were released in the days following the incident.
Less than 24 hours after the accident, on Sunday, Michael's passing was made public. His brother, David, remained in critical condition. On July 7th, just a few days later, David turned 16 years old, though he was in a medically-induced coma.
Upon learning of Michael Jaramillo's passing, park officials issued a statement offering their condolences; they also made it clear that the park is helping authorities in their investigation.
On the Friday before the deadly water ride accident, Adventureland's Raging River ride passed a regularly scheduled state inspection. No issues were found with the ride during the inspection which looked at 19 different categories.
On the other hand, a report completed by Adventureland following the deadly incident stated that one of the raft's eight air bladders was not fully inflated. The park's attorney highlighted that it's not clear how the bladder became deflated; more specifically, the bladder could have become deflated after the raft flipped. As it stands, there is little explanation for this tragic accident.
Considering how many guests have enjoyed the varied rides at Adventureland, the actual rate of water accidents on the property is very low. Yet, with how severe the repercussions are for injury victims and their families, it's incorrect to dismiss them when they do take place.
Raging River does not have a history of accidents. In fact, the ride has safely "transported" thousands of riders down its river over many decades. Nevertheless, another incident is fresh in the mind of many Iowa residents. That is the death of Steve Booher, a 68-year-old with just 6 days on the job. Booher was working on the line at Raging River when he fell on the conveyor belt that hauls the rafts. He suffered a severe head injury that would end his life.
Other incidents have taken place at Adventureland: 38 total since the year 2006. The park has faced fines from OSHA in connection with many of these infractions. The park has also faced lawsuits from victims, at least some of which have been settled. Booher's wife, for instance, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the park after her husband's untimely death; the suit was settled out of court for an unreported amount.
After an accident takes place, victims and surviving family members are often overwhelmed. There's not only the trauma of sudden loss but also unexpected financial expenses. Most individuals expect insurance policies to cover them in these instances when they need it most.
Unfortunately, even in trying times, insurance companies may present obstacles before paying out benefits. Moreover, they try to diminish benefits, if not deny them outright. Most individuals simply don't have the legal experience required to face and negotiate with insurance companies.
Without filing a legal claim, victims may not get the financial support they need to cover their damages. A lawsuit can provide this much-deserved help for victims and their families.