David and Sabrina Jaramillo had taken their family to an amusement park on Saturday ahead of their eldest son's birthday but it turned out to be a nightmare.
What was supposed to be a celebration of life for the Jaramillo family turned into a devastating loss over the weekend. For their eldest son's upcoming birthday, David and Sabrina Jaramillo had taken their family to an amusement park on Saturday, July 3, 2021. All they wanted was for everyone to "have a good time" but a terrible accident on a water ride ended up claiming the life of one of their kids and leaving another in a medically induced coma. "I will never get a chance to see him grow up or get a chance to see him graduate," the grief-stricken mother told ABC News during an exclusive interview that aired on Good Morning America. "He was just taken from us," said David of the painful tragedy. "Love your kids. You just don't know when they'll be taken."
Grieving Parents Speak Out After Son, 11, Dies in Amusement Park Accident: 'Robbed Me of My Baby' https://t.co/Se9QPRsaDu— People (@people) July 6, 2021
On Saturday, the family had boarded many rides before finally getting in line to experience the Raging River at the family-owned amusement park called Adventureland Park situated in Altoona, a suburb of Iowa's capital city, Des Moines. So David and Sabrina boarded a raft along with their sons David (junior), 15, August, 14, Michael, 11, and their niece, Nyla. Once they were done securing the seatbelts, the raft embarked on the river rapids ride. But something unexpected happened and their tube suddenly flipped over, leaving everyone trapped underwater.
"I see the silhouettes of my sons trying to grab each other, grab us," recalled David of the moment he felt helpless. "They want us to help them. We couldn't do it." While both parents, their son August, and niece Nyla managed to break free and swim to the surface, David Jr. and Michael were still stuck. None of them could reach them at that point. "I'm drowning," said the father. "The river was so intense, it was like a suction." Hearing the family's pleas for help, bystanders and first responders quickly jumped into the water and ultimately helped both the kids out of the tube. However, it was too late for one of them.
David Jr. and Michael had to be immediately transported to a local hospital where their condition was critical. Meanwhile, the other members of the family were treated for minor injuries. Tragically, Michael succumbed to his injuries the following day and his brother still remains in critical condition at the hospital, revealed the Altoona Police Department. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Jaramillo family as they navigate the heartbreaking loss of their child," expressed the police in a statement. "Altoona Detective are working with the State Inspector and Adventureland Park to understand this tragic accident."
"I see the silhouettes of my sons... They want us to help them. We couldn’t do it."— PIX11 News (@PIX11News) July 6, 2021
Father recounts Iowa amusement ride accident that killed 11-year-old son
Read more: https://t.co/KwIfJgfRoO pic.twitter.com/bFa8bc0Gir
As for the Park officials, they offered their condolences to the devastated family in a statement released on Sunday, according to PEOPLE. "[We are] saddened to learn of the passing of one Guest," they wrote. The ride in question now remains closed for a "thorough inspection" as an investigation into the tragic incident is ongoing. The park also noted that the Raging River ride, which was first opened in 1983, was inspected on Friday and that it "was found to be in sound working order." They added, "Adventureland is working closely with both the State and local authorities, and would like to thank them again for their efforts."
"At this time, we ask for your thoughts and prayers for the Guest and their family, as well as for our team members who were on site," said the park. Meanwhile, an attorney for the amusement center maintained that the ride in question was "safe" for people. "The Raging River ride has been in operation for nearly four decades," said the attorney in a statement to ABC News. "The ride was inspected by the State of Iowa the day before the incident and was in good working order." That being said, a 68-year-old employee Steve Booher died in June 2016 after he fell onto the conveyor belt while helping guests get in and out of their rafts. At the time, the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Adventureland Park $4,500 for its safety violation.
According to The Associated Press, they were also instructed to install devices that would ensure that ride assistants were positioned safely before the operators let rafts advance. Meanwhile, the Jaramillos are struggling to cope with the loss of a child. "He was a baby, and I feel like Adventureland robbed me of my baby," expressed Sabrina who could no longer hold back her tears. As for Michael's father he described his late son as a "good kid" whose "heart was bigger than him." The traumatic incident has impacted August's life as well. "He's scared. It is a nightmare," shared the father. "He closes his eyes and thinks about the water. When he wakes up, he realizes the nightmare's true. So there's no peace." The family is now waiting for David Jr., who turns 16 on Wednesday, to wake up from his medically-induced coma as he struggles to stay alive.
Cover image source: GoFundMe | Jaramillo Family Adventureland Tragedy