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Iowa Water Park Hit with Wrongful Death Suit Over 2021 Drowning

— July 8, 2022

Adventureland in Altoona, Iowa is at the center of a wrongful death lawsuit over the 2021 drowning of a park guest.

A wrongful death lawsuit was filed earlier this week over an amusement park ride in Iowa last year that claimed the life of an 11-year-old boy. According to the suit, officials at Adventureland in Altoona, Iowa “failed to maintain a safe water ride.”

Image of a drowning warning sign
Drowning warning sign; image courtesy of
OpenClipart-Vectors via Pixabay,

The child who died was Michael Jaramillo. According to court documents, he was at the park on July 3, 2021, with his family to celebrate his older brother’s upcoming 16th birthday. He was on board the Raging River at the time of the accident. While on the ride, the “raft flipped over, trapping the Jaramillo family underneath.” He and his older brother were “trapped underwater for more than five minutes,” the suit states. Tragically, Michael died the next day at the hospital. The cause? Freshwater drowning.

The suit further alleges “a lack of training, maintenance issues with the rafts, and Adventureland’s decision to continue to operate the Raging River ride with patrons aboard despite experiencing serious problems with rafts striking the bottom of the ride, air bladders within the rafts deflating, and mechanical equipment failures on the day of the accident led to Michael’s death.”

Additionally, the suit claims that some of the rafts, including the one the Jaramillos’ were in, “had temporarily been pulled for repairs that day and put back into circulation without proper testing.”

In addition to Adventureland, the suit also names its former parent company as a defendant, along with four men who worked as officers or managers at the park at the time of the incident. When commenting on the matter, an attorney representing the former parent company, Guy Cook, said:

“For nearly 40 years each Adventureland park ride has undergone a detailed annual safety inspections by the State of Iowa and rigorous daily inspections by park maintenance and ride operators. This includes the Raging River ride. Safety is, and always has been, the number one priority at Adventureland.”

Fred L. Dorr, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, said “the incident was an avoidable tragedy which has devastated their family.” He added:

“The Jaramillo family seeks, first and foremost, accountability of those responsible at Adventureland for their overwhelming losses; responsibility for their damages and loss acknowledged; and patron safety, rather than financial gain, to be recognized as paramount in the operation of all amusement parks, including Adventureland.”

Dorr also pointed out that while the family lost one of their children, Michael’s older brother “now suffers significant, long-term damage.” The suit was filed yesterday in Polk County District Court.


Family of 11-year-old killed in Iowa water ride accident files wrongful death lawsuit

11-year-old boy dies, 3 others injured after a raft ride at an Iowa amusement park overturns


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