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Expert says water slide carried too much weight

slide June 5, 1997
Web posted at: 11:28 p.m. EDT (0328 GMT)

From Correspondent Rusty Dornin

CONCORD, California (CNN) -- A water slide twisted apart with dozens of teen-agers aboard Monday because there was too much weight in one place, according to a safety expert.

One teen-ager was killed and 32 injured in the accident, in which the slide tore apart some 37 feet above the ground.

Dr. John Hunsucker, an industrial engineering professor from the University of Houston, said his investigation has not yet revealed any problems with the ride structure.

"That slide is a good slide," he said.

VXtreme logo Rusty Dornan reports - VXtreme streaming video


Hunsucker was hired by Premier Parks, owner of Waterworld USA. Park officials have maintained the collapse was caused when about 30 Napa High School students rushed a lifeguard in an attempt to go down the slide together.

Posted warning signs do not tell riders to go one at a time. Park officials claim lifeguards tried to stop the crowd of young people.

But some parents are blaming the park for the tragedy at the popular East Bay water park.


"It makes me angry -- do we have to have a catastrophe before they pass some kind of law governing water slides?" asked John Thibaut, whose son Mark was injured. "There is definitely an issue of safety, and it's not just this park."

Some students, who were at the park for their senior class trip, have acknowledged they were trying to get as many people as possible on the ride. Some have claimed they weren't warned to stop, but others admit the lifeguard on duty was blowing a whistle in warning.

Hunsucker, who is also president of the National Aquatic Safety Co., said he believes the slide can hold at least 10 people at one time, but he is not sure how many more than that it could hold.


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