Raft at Iowa amusement park was removed from service for repairs on day of deadly accident, report says

U.S. & World

A state report reveals new details of an inspection following the tragic death of Michael Jaramillo, the 11-year-old boy who died after his raft overturned at the Adventureland amusement park in Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

(NEXSTAR) – New details have emerged following the tragic death of an 11-year-old boy on a raft ride at the Adventureland amusement park in Iowa.

A previously unreleased report obtained by the Des Moines Register had found that ride operators temporarily removed the raft from the Raging River ride on July 3 — the day of the accident — to repair a deflated air bladder. The raft was returned to service only hours before it flipped over near the end of the ride, trapping 11-year-old Michael Jaramillo and his 16-year-old brother David underwater, the records indicated.

Michael died the following day. His brother David was critically injured and placed on life support. Their father, also named David, suffered broken bones in his shoulder.  

The report, conducted by Iowa state safety inspectors, claims several rafts had been taken out of service on July 3 to repair deflated bladders. Investigators added that the Jaramillo family’s raft, before capsizing, had dipped below the water “multiple times” to the point where it was touching and scraping the bottom of the ride’s course, the report read, as cited by the Des Moines Register.

An initial investigation found the raft’s bladder was deflated after the July 3 accident, but officials are still uncertain if the deflated bladder was the result of the accident, or perhaps a factor that may have contributed to the raft flipping over, the Des Moines Register reported.

Guy R. Cook, an attorney for Adventureland, has claimed that a deflated bladder would not have flipped the raft, but maintains that the amusement park is insistent in finding the cause of the accident.

A regulator who inspected the ride the day before the accident also noted no problems.

The ride, which was voluntarily shut down following the accident, has been ordered to remain closed by Labor Commissioner Rod Roberts of the Iowa Department of Labor pending the results of the investigation.

A spokesperson for the Iowa Division of Labor has since said there is no timeline for the investigation’s completion, the Associated Press reported. The ride remained closed as of Friday afternoon.

This week, Michael Jaramillo’s family also appeared on “Good Morning America” where father David recounted the harrowing ordeal.

“When it flipped over, all of us were trapped in the safety seat belts,” he said. “I see the silhouettes of my sons trying to grab each other, grab us. They want us to help them. We couldn’t do it.”

Michael Jaramillo’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday at a Des Moines church.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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