Things That Matter

11-Year-Old Michael Jaramillo Died From Drowning On a Theme Park’s Raging River Ride

Photo via GoFundMe

Over the holiday weekend, like many families, the Jaramillo family visited a theme park to pass the time. The theme park was Adventureland Park in Altoona, Iowa. But instead of a day full of fun and excitement, the day turned into every parent’s worst nightmare when they boarded the Raging River Ride.

While the family of five were on the Raging River Ride, their tube capsized, trapping the family under water. 11-year-old Michael Jaramillo died. 15-year-old David Jaramillo Jr. is still in a medically induced coma.

David and Sabrina Jaramillo took their sons, David Jr., 15; August, 14; and Michael, 11, to Adventureland to celebrate David Jr.’s upcoming birthday. The day started like any other, with the Jaramillo family riding multiple rides before going on the Raging River Ride. When they got on the Raging River Ride, they buckled their seatbelts before the ride started.

But at some point during the ride, their tube capsized. Being buckled in, the family struggled to get above water. David, Sabrina, and August were able to free themselves. David Jr. and Michael, however, were trapped under the tube in treacherous waters. Sabrina and David screamed for help and bystanders and first responders eventually helped free the two boys and perform CPR. The boys were rushed to the hospital. Michael died the next day. David Jr. is still in a medically induced coma.

David and Sabrina Jaramillo are now grieving the loss of their child and trying to come to terms with their new reality. They are also constantly at their son David Jr.’s side, praying that he wakes up.

“I see the silhouettes of my sons trying to grab each other, grab us,” David Sr. told ABC News. “They want us to help them. We couldn’t do it. The river was so intense, it was like a suction.”

David Sr. also says his son August is struggling to process the traumatic event he lived through. “He’s scared. It’s a nightmare. He closes his eyes and thinks about the water. When he wakes up, he realizes the nightmare’s true. So there’s no peace.”

Sabrina Jaramillo is disgusted that Adventureland’s Raging River Ride is so deadly. “[Michael] was a baby and I feel like Adventureland robbed me of my baby,” she told ABC News through tears. “I will never get a chance to see him grow up or get a chance to see him graduate.”

The state and local authorities are now conducting an investigation into the incident. It’s worth noting that this is not the first time someone has died from the Raging River Ride.

In 2016, an Adventureland employee died after falling onto a conveyor belt when he was helping passengers exit their raft. The park was fined $4500.

Through a lawyer, Adventureland is still insisting that the Raging River Ride is “safe”. In a statement, they wrote: “The ride had been inspected on 7/2/21 and was found to be in sound working order. It will remain closed for a thorough inspection.”

They also added that they were “saddened to learn of the passing of one Guest” and their thoughts are with the affected families at this time.”

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