The family of an 11-year-old boy who died last year after an Iowa amusement park ride overturned filed a wrongful-death lawsuit Thursday, saying the park failed to maintain a safe water ride, according to a copy of the petition obtained by CNN.
Michael Jaramillo was on board the Raging River ride at Adventureland in Altoona, Iowa, where on July 3, 2021, his family was celebrating his older brother David’s upcoming 16th birthday. The raft flipped over, trapping the Jaramillo family underneath. Michael and David were trapped underwater for more than five minutes, according to the lawsuit.
Michael died at a hospital the next day, from “freshwater drowning,” the court document says.
The 55-page suit 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.
The lawsuit alleges some rafts, including the Jaramillos’ boat, had temporarily been pulled for repairs that day and put back into circulation without proper testing.
According to the lawsuit, Adventureland was sold in December 2021. The lawsuit also names four men who were then officers or managers of the park or its former parent company, Adventure Lands Of America, Inc. It does not name the new owner.
An attorney for the former parent company of Adventureland, Guy Cook, said in a statement the claims of the lawsuit will be specifically addressed in court filings and the accident resulted from “a number of extraordinarily unusual factors coming together.”
“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,” Cook said in the statement.
Fred L. Dorr, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a statement obtained by CNN the incident was “an avoidable tragedy which has devastated their family.”
“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 said in the statement.
Dorr said in the statement the Jaramillo’s not only lost one child but another now suffers significant, long term damage.
The accident occurred on the first day of the park’s reopening since it closed in 2020 because of the pandemic. The day before it began welcoming visitors again, the Raging River ride passed a state inspection and was found to be in “sound working order,” according to a Facebook post from the park.
The court document was filed Thursday in Polk County District Court.
CNN’s Justin Lear and Keith Allen contributed to this report.