11-year-old schoolgirl died on water ride after "boat hit rock and she fell in"

A schoolgirl died on a water ride at Drayton Manor Theme Park after her boat hit a rock and she fell in, it has been claimed.

The youngster, who is from the Leicester area, fell from the Splash Canyon water ride at the Staffordshire theme park on Tuesday afternoon.

It was confirmed just before 6pm that the girl - a Year 6 pupil at Jameah Academy, an integrated Islamic day school for girls - had died.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said it was making initial inquiries into the tragedy alongside the emergency services, while the girl's school said it is "liaising with the relevant authorities".

According to one parent at the Jameah Academy, the girl fell from one of the boats when it hit a rock.

She told Mail Online: "When the girl got up to change seats just then it hit a rock and she got knocked out of the boat and fell in the water and the water currents dragged her in.

"For that reason they couldn’t see her after she fell in. The kids started screaming and told the staff at the park that their friend has fallen in the water.”

The parent, who asked not to be named, said the girl disappeared from view after falling from the ride.

In a statement her school said it was providing "support to pupils and staff" and asked that the girl's family and the school community was given "time to grieve".

The theme park will remain closed today "in a mark of respect". Drayton Manor's company director George Bryan, whose grandfather opened the park in the 1950s, said they were "truly shocked and devastated" by the death.

He appeared shaken as he read a statement at the park on Tuesday afternoon in which he said specially-trained staff were on the scene "immediately" after the alarm was raised.

West Midlands Ambulance Service said it was called to Drayton Manor Theme Park at 2.18pm and sent paramedics by land and air to the site, with the first crews arriving within seven minutes.

A spokesman said crews discovered a girl "with serious injuries who had been rescued from the water by park staff" on arrival.

After receiving advanced life support she was flown to Birmingham Children's Hospital with a doctor continuing treatment en-route.

"Unfortunately, shortly after arrival at hospital it became apparent nothing could be done to save her and she was confirmed deceased," the spokesman said.

The girl has not been publicly identified, and Staffordshire Police said specially-trained officers were supporting her family following the "tragic incident".

The ride, which opened in 1993, and features up to 21 boats each with a capacity of six people, was closed following the incident.

Offering a "a wild ride" with "fast-flowing rapids", riders must be at least 0.9m (3ft) tall, although those under 1.1m must be accompanied by an adult.

A spokesman for the HSE said on Tuesday: "The HSE has been made aware of today's incident at Drayton Manor and is making initial inquiries along with emergency services."

Drayton Manor officials said on Facebook on Tuesday: "The HSE have not asked us to close the park tomorrow. The decision has come from the team and the Bryan family as a mark of respect to the girl's family."

Cllr Philip Atkins, Staffordshire County Council leader, said the Bryan family "will be absolutely devastated by this accident and will undoubtedly do all they can to help find out how this tragic accident occurred".

Evening Standard
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