11-Year-Old Dies At Iowa Theme Park. It's Not The First Fatally On The Water Ride

Adventureland sign in Iowa

Thrill rides at amusement parks are designed to make you feel like you're in danger, but they're all supposed to be perfectly safe. A lot of work is done to make sure rides are in proper working order so that everybody can enjoy them and know they'll be ok, even if they occasionally feel otherwise. Unfortunately, accidents can still happen and the worst case scenario came true at Adventureland in Iowa over the July 4th weekend when a raft overturned on the Raging River ride. Four people were hospitalized following the accident, and now we've learned that one of them, an 11-year-old boy, has died.

The Raging River ride is one not dissimilar to many other river rapids rides that uses a conveyer system to move circular rafts through a waterway which simulates white water rapids. Exactly what went wrong to cause one of the rafts to capsize is unclear but at approximately 7:30 PM on Saturday night a boat with six riders overturned. Of the four people admitted to the hospital, three were in critical condition including 11-year-old Michael Jaramillo. According to The Des Moines Register, Jaramillo passed away sometime on July 4th, the other two riders are still in critical condition.

In a post on the Adventureland Facebook page the amusement park is stating the attraction had been inspected just the day before the accident and found to be in sound working order. The accident is currently under investigation and the ride will remain closed until a determination is made as to what exactly led to these tragic events. The Raging River attraction has been in operation at Adventureland since 1983. It was manufactured by German ride designer Intamin, who has manufactured dozens of the same sort of attraction, including handing Grizzly River Run at Disney California Adventure and Kali River Rapids at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

This apparently isn't the first time that somebody has died in connection with this particular attraction. In 2016, a 68-year-old man beginning a summer job at Adventureland fell onto the conveyer belt system while helping riders exit the attraction and he fractured his skull. He died four days later.

The worst thing you're supposed to worry about on rides like this is how wet you're going to end up by the end. It's incredible to see something like this happen. When you think about how frequently amusement park attractions are running on a daily basis all over the world they function without incident so often it becomes an afterthought. Considering that a child died here we can expect a very thorough investigation that will ultimately explain exactly what went wrong here.

Even if the ride itself was working correctly, we may very well have seen the end of Raging River at Adventureland. Often, when something this tragic takes place, rides end up with a stigma that can't be overcome. Even if nobody is at fault here it would not be a surprise if Raging River is replaced so that future guests simply don't have to think about it again.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.