'A nightmare': Dad recalls last moments before son's theme park death

·3-min read

The parents of a boy who died from injuries sustained on an amusement park ride have spoken of their trauma as they struggled to try and save him.

Michael Jaramillo, 11, died on Sunday after the raft he was riding on Raging River ride at Adventureland in the US state of Iowa overturned.

Michael was visiting the theme park with his parents David and Sabrina Jaramillo, his brothers August, 14, and David, 15, and his cousin Nyla. All of them were in the raft.

Mr Jaramillo told Good Morning America the raft flipped over, trapping the family underwater.

Michael Jaramillo, 11, is pictured.
Michael Jaramillo, 11, died after suffering injuries on a theme park ride in the US. Source: ABC News/ Good Morning America

He said he has relived the moment his sons scrambled to try and get free but couldn’t because of their seatbelts. Mr Jaramillo and his wife were helpless in rescuing them.

“I see the silhouettes of my sons trying to grab each other, grab us,” he told the program.

August, Nyla and the parents managed to escape but David and his brother remained trapped.

Witness Emanuel Rico told KCCI he saw Mr Jaramillo calling for help.

The Raging River ride seen at Adventureland closed.
The Raging River ride seen at Adventureland closed after the crash on Saturday. Source: WHO13

"He was in pain," Mr Rico told KCCI.

"You could see he had some marks on his face and on his arm that he got bruised up a little bit."

First responders heeded the cry for help and managed to pull the brothers from the water.

But Michael died just hours later.

"He was just taken from us," Mr Jaramillo said.

David, meanwhile, remains in a medically induced coma.

Sabrina and David Jaramillo are pictured.
Sabrina and David Jaramillo have one son dead and another in a coma after the raft overturned. Source: ABC News/ Good Morning America

Mr Jaramillo said August is traumatised over what happened to his family, describing his son’s experience as “a nightmare” every time he thinks about the water.

Detectives are working with Adventureland and state inspectors “to understand this tragic accident,” Altoona Police Department spokeswoman Alyssa Wilson said.

Raging River ride remains closed

Adventureland said the ride has been closed since the accident and that the family-owned park is cooperating with investigators. Attorney Guy Cook, who represents Adventureland in personal injury cases and is assisting with the park’s response, said the inquiry would be comprehensive.

“Safety is the number one priority at Adventureland,” Mr Cook wrote in a text message.

“The Raging River ride has been in operation for nearly four decades. It is a safe ride.”

The ride opened for the first time during the 2021 season after a state inspection on Friday found it was in sound working order, Adventureland said.

In 2016, four people died on the Thunder River Rapids ride at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast when their raft flipped.

An inquest into the incident unveiled a "litany of problems" with the attraction, with some experts declaring the tragedy was an accident waiting to happen.

with The Associated Press

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