‘All of us were trapped,’ says father after son dies in Iowa amusement ride accident

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ALTOONA, Iowa (NEXSTAR) – The father of an 11-year-old boy who died after an accident on a popular boat ride at an Iowa amusement park says his son and other family members were trapped by the ride’s seat belts when the boat carrying them flipped.

In an interview broadcast Tuesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” David Jaramillo recounted Saturday night’s capsizing on the Raging River at Adventureland Park in Altoona.

“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 wanted us to help them. We couldn’t do it.”

Police say Michael Jaramillo died Sunday from his injuries and three others were injured after their raft overturned on the Raging River around 7:30 p.m. Saturday, according to the Altoona Police Department.

“I feel like Adventureland robbed me of my baby,” said Sabrina Jaramillo, Michael’s mother. “I will never get a chance to see him grow up.”

Authorities say six people were aboard, and the morning news program reported that Michael’s older brother was hospitalized in critical condition.

Adventureland said the family-owned park is cooperating with investigators.

“Adventureland is saddened to learn of the passing of one Guest involved in the Raging River accident,” Adventureland Park said in a statement. “This investigation is ongoing and the ride remains closed.”

The park said the ride, which has been closed since the accident, will undergo a “thorough inspection.”

The Raging River ride uses a conveyor belt to move large circular rafts through rapids. It’s not clear what caused one boat to flip. Adventureland officials said the ride had just been inspected Friday, a day before the accident, and was found to be in sound working order.

It was the second deadly incident on the ride in five years.

In 2016, a 68-year-old seasonal employee died on the same ride after becoming wedged between a boat and a concrete wall. Steve Booher was working as a ride assistant when he slipped and fell into the conveyor belt that drives the ride’s cars. He died four days later from head injuries sustained in the accident.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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