THE family of an 11-year-old boy who died after a water park ride capsized in an accident that left his brother fighting for his life has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in state court on Thursday.
David and Sabrina Jaramillo along with their three children David Jr, August and Nyla have filed a lawsuit against Adventureland Park for the incident last year.
Michael Jaramillo, 11, was on the Raging River ride with his family on July 3, 2021, when the raft flipped and trapped all six of them under the water.
Michael drowned and his other family members were injured.
The family’s lawsuit claims the park located in Altoona, a suburb of Des Moines, failed to properly maintain and repair its rides for several rides, including the Raging River.
The suit also alleges the park continued operations on the day of the incident despite reports of serious problems.
The Jaramillo family is seeking unspecified monetary damages for negligence against the company that owned the park, Adventure Lands of America, former CEO Michael Krantz and three managers.
Krantz’s family owned the company that operated the park since the 1970s before it was sold late last year to Palace Entertainment.
“All actions or failures to act by the stated officers and managers occurred during their employment by Adventure Land, and within the scope of their employment,” the lawsuit read.
Court records show Adventureland has been sued in recent years by people who were seriously injured on other rides, including waterslides.
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Iowa OSHA records show the agency most recently fined Adventureland in 2018 after an employee working on a roller coaster was knocked off a transformer and fell to the ground when he was struck by a test ride.
The employee was hospitalized with a broken arm. Adventureland settled safety violations by agreeing to pay $14,500 in 2019.
Just days after Michael’s death, his parents went on Good Morning America to speak about the moment their children reached out to be saved when the raft capsized.
“I see the silhouettes of my sons trying to grab each other, grab us,” David said.
“I’m drowning,” he continued. “The river was so intense, it was like a suction.”
The parents said that they were able to escape the raft, as were youngest son Gus and their niece but Michael and David remained trapped under the water.
As the family screamed out for help, staff and first responders dived into the water and were eventually able to pull the two boys free.
Four off-duty Altoona officers and fire medics who were working at the park “quickly responded,” cops said.
Both were rushed to a local hospital in critical condition and the others were treated for minor injuries.
Michael died from his injuries a day later while his brother David was placed in a medically induced coma.
The Jaramillos spoke of their heartbreak at not being able to see their son grow up.
“I will never get a chance to see him grow up or get a chance to see him graduate,” Sabrina said.
She broke down in tears as she said family-owned Adventureland “robbed me of my baby.”
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“He was just taken from us,” David Jaramillo added. “Love your kids. You just don’t know when they’ll be taken.”
“His heart was bigger than him,” he added of his son.