Imagine this scenario, a hot summer day and Dad decides to take his family to a well-known national water park for a day of wet fun and adventure. Soon thereafter, the family boards a 4 person raft and is kicked off by the lifeguard to begin their adventure down the water slide into a funnel. Shortly thereafter, the individuals separate from the raft and enter a splash pool face down barely conscious under the water with serious permanent injuries including but not limited to closed head trauma, spinal fractures, fractured mandible, scarring and lacerations, tibia fractures, closed head trauma, contusions, concussion, and multiple hematomas, fractured ribs and aspiration pneumonia. Furthermore, consider the fact that spinal fractures are commonly known and under reported with various versions of the same water slide attraction.
Water Slide Accidents are Common
Of course, the owners, operators, and manufacturers of many water slides and water parks express sympathy for the injuries sustained by victims but they will then no doubt attempt to point the finger at the victim(s) claiming that most accidents are their own fault. They claim that the victims assume the risk or were negligent in some unjustified manner. The safe operation of a water slide adventure requires that lifeguards and operators pay close attention to positioning, weight, and size of all occupants. Water park personnel must know or should have known proper loading and riding positions, weight limitations, and safe spatial barriers. While we recognize that many water slides are participatory in nature and involve some degree of risk, as fair paying guests who utilize equipment must pay heed to proper instruction warnings and supervision. Many water slides are enclosed and dark in order to boost the latest thrill factor. Guests have no way of appreciating the risk or dangers involved before the ride. Frankly, I had the fear of my life on an enclosed water slide and have not been on one since.
Amusement park and water park operators will claim that there was a warning posted at the ride. However, one must ask does the warning accurately portray to patrons what the owner or operator knew or should have known about the dangers or dangerous operating conditions associated with the ride. I assure you most probably not. If so many would not even make an attempt to board the attraction. Obviously the riding experience on a water slide is greatly influenced by weight, size, distribution, body shape, and water accumulation as well as the angle. A higher duty may be imposed on the park owner or operator with regard to addressing clients of extreme shapes or sizes. There is certainly no reason that exists to explain why an entire family visiting a water park in a normal and healthy condition, following all rules and instructions known to them, end up with debilitating permanent injuries if the operators of the attraction followed the rules, regulations, and standards of the manufacturer’s safety instructions and provide a reasonably safe environment and properly trained lifeguards and ride operators.