Iowa amusement park won’t reopen water ride after 11-year-old boy dies

ALTOONA, Iowa — The ride at an Iowa amusement park where an 11-year-old boy was killed in 2021 will never reopen, park owners said.

Bill Lentz, general manager of Adventureland, said in a letter posted on the park’s website Friday that after spending months reviewing the safety of the Raging River ride, officials had decided to close it permanently.

“The decision comes after months of reviewing the ride, working closely with its manufacturer to identify improvements each would need to meet our standards for operation,” Lentz said in the statement. “Based on this review, the best course of action is to close Raging River and focus on improving the Adventureland experience elsewhere.”

Michael Jaramillo died and his brother and father were injured on July 3, 2021, after their raft overturned and trapped them in the water. The ride uses a treadmill to move large circular rafts through the rapids.

The park was sold to Palace Entertainment following the boy’s death and Lentz took over as general manager in 2022. Palace Entertainment is the American subsidiary of Parques Reunidos based in Madrid.

The Jaramillo family filed a lawsuit against Adventureland and its former owners in June 2022, and a separate lawsuit against the State of Iowa in September 2022. That lawsuit is tentatively expected to go to trial next spring. The previous owners maintained that the ride was safe.

State officials cited the park in November 2021 for 17 security breaches related to Jaramillo’s death.

The Des Moines Registry reports violations included using Flex Seal instead of approved patches to repair leaks in the rafts’ flotation bladders, which keep the ride afloat, and failing to document or adequately test repairs. .

In 2016, seasonal worker Steve Booher, 68, was killed after he fell when the ride started moving unexpectedly. He became trapped between a boat and a concrete side wall, and his head was repeatedly rammed. He died a few days later.


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