Image of The Wave
The Wave; Image by Doug Duran,

When most families visit water or amusement parks, they do so with the expectation that they’ll enjoy a day of fun and relaxation. Few families fret over the possibility of an accident occurring. For one family that visited The Wave, a relatively new water park in Dublin, California, that’s exactly what happened, though. While going down one of the park’s water slides, the Emerald Plunge, Susannah Jones’ 10-year-old son flew off the slide and hit the cement. Fortunately, the young boy survived the ordeal, but his mother and father still filed a “$2.5 million lawsuit against the city of Dublin, The Wave, the manufacturers of the slide and the contractors and subcontractors who installed the slide.”

Before the accident occurred, the family was enjoying a simple day out. The Emerald Plunge quickly became a favorite, and before the accident, Jones’ son had already been down it once. The second time on it, though, he “wanted an audience.” Recalling the incident that occurred on the park’s opening day back on May 27, 2017, Jones said “He came to us and said ‘Watch me.’” Unlike the first trip down the slide, however, the second ride “turned into a nightmare before her eyes.” According to witness reports, “as the boy hit the bottom straightaway after a plunge from 48 feet, he hydroplaned up the side of the half-pipe.” From there, “he hung precariously on the lip and then was propelled over the side, hitting the cement before skidding to a stop.”

Image of the Emerald Plunge Water Slide
The Emerald Plunge; Image by Jose Carlos Fajardo,

It was any parent’s nightmare. At a news conference earlier this week where she announced that she was filing the lawsuit, Jones said: “I couldn’t get to him fast enough. I wanted to fly. I didn’t know that he was ever going to get up.”

The news conference itself was held right outside The Wave with the Emerald Plunge in full view. The ride has been closed since the accident. But how did the accident happen? Weren’t there safety protocols in place to protect children riding the water slide? Well, according to the boy’s father, Ron Hayduk, “a park employee told him after the incident that the manufacturer had tested for height requirements for the slide, but not for weight.” Understandably the park employee’s comment upset Mr. Hayduk, who said: “Really? My son’s the guinea pig? It’s outrageous.”

While it’s great the boy survived, he didn’t walk away unscathed. When discussing her son’s injuries, his mother said he’s recovering. “He hit his head but did not suffer a concussion. Also, a pediatric dermatologist said the abrasions on his back were technically burns…He hasn’t returned to all his activities yet.”

Her son’s injuries are just one reason why Jones and her husband are pursuing a lawsuit, though. They also hope that their lawsuit will draw attention to the fact that water parks aren’t regulated by the federal government. When commenting on the issue, Hayduk said: “We’ve learned there are no federal regulations for water parks. Every state has its own.”

The family’s attorney, Waukeen A. McCoy also chimed in, saying: “California has failed in this case. This isn’t about one accident and one family.”

However, both the city of Dublin and Whitewater, the “manufacturer of the water park,” claim they have tried to reach an amicable settlement with the family, but said the family hasn’t cooperated. In a statement issued earlier this week, the city said “it and its legal representatives have attempted to reach an amicable settlement with the family. However, the family lawyer has refused to provide any information about the family’s injuries that would be necessary to resolve the claim.”

Whitewater claims it was unable to reach a settlement with the family because the family’s attorney “wanted to settle the case without providing us medical records to substantiate the claims being made.”

McCoy pushed back against the claims, saying: “I gave the attorney from Whitewater all the medical records and photographs.”


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