Evha Jannath dies after accident at Drayton Manor
JAMEAH GIRLS ACADEMY in Leicester was closed today as a mark of respect following the death of Evha Jannath on the Splash Canyon ride.
The eleven year old was on a school trip to Drayton Manor Theme Park in Staffordshire. She was trying to swap seats with a friend, but as she stood up her raft hit a bump and she was thrown out, into the swirling water. She was rescued from the water by Drayton Park staff and given first aid until the air ambulance arrived. Paramedics took over and she was airlifted to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, but although all NHS staff tried very hard to save her she died shortly after arrival.
Evha had just celebrated her eleventh birthday. Her devastated family, who had only recently moved to Leicester, said that the tragedy had torn their world apart. They paid tribute to their daughter, saying, “Evha was a beautiful little girl who was full of love and always smiling. Words cannot describe the pain and loss we fee, we are devastated that we will not see our beautiful little girl again.”
Tributes also came from other family members in Bangladesh and from the headteacher of the Jameah Girls Academy, as well as from parents and relatives of other pupils from the school. Drayton Park director also expressed his shock and sympathy for the family.
A spokesperson for the Jame Majid Mosque, which is opposite the school, expressed their sympathy for the family and said that the community would be praying for them. The Leicester Muslims Association posted a statement on Facebook which ended, “We humbly request all to make dua for her and may Allah grant her family sabr e Jamel amen.”
The tragedy has led to a number of people speaking to the press about problems they had experienced with the Splash Canyon ride at Drayton and similar rides elsewhere. A ten year old child fell off the Drayton ride four years ago: fortunately, a member of the public managed to pull him out again very quickly. There were reports from various visitors that this very ride had malfunctioned a couple of weeks ago and again last weekend.
However, Drayton Park issued a formal statement saying that it had a good safety record, with relatively few incidents over the last few years. In 2000 there was an accident on the Back Revolver ride in which a member of staff was injured. In 2005, 19 passengers were left stranded for half an hour when the rollercoaster Shockwave broke down. Five years ago, a young mother had a fatal heart attack just after going on the Maelstrom ride. The company had also reviewed its procedures after the 2015 accident at Alton Towers.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has now launched an investigation into the accident. Thorpe Park theme park has closed its own similar attraction – the Rumba Rapids Water Ride – as a precaution until the cause of yesterday’s accident is clear. There are a number of immediate questions to answer.
•Why do the rafts used on rapid water rides not have any kind of seatbelt or safety harness? There was an accident on a rapid water ride in Australia last year, in which the raft flipped over. Seatbelts may have trapped them underwater, inside the raft – so there may be arguments against them. However, two of the four people in that accident were thrown onto moving parts of the ride and were crushed to death and two drowned anyway, while two children were thrown clear and were rescued. It may be that seatbelts would be a good idea – if there were also enough staff on constant alert and ready to rescue anyone from an overturned raft.
•It also appears that there was no teacher present on the raft which Evha was in: are supervision requirements satisfactory on this ride?
•There are reports that the water in the channel was five foot deep. Did this delay Evha being rescued?
•There are reports that the children left in the raft had to shout to Park staff that someone had fallen in the water – but the staff did not believe them at first. Is this true and, if so, what lessons should be learned about this accident.