A mother whose son fell off the theme park ride on which schoolgirl Evha Jannath died says she warned bosses the attraction was unsafe.
Vikki Treacy wrote to Drayton Manor after Patrick, ten, plunged into the water on Splash Canyon. She said of Evha’s death: “Had they taken my incident seriously, maybe it wouldn’t have happened.”
Evha Jannath tragically died when she fell off the Splash Canyon ride at Drayton Manor
Last night a dad also revealed he had film of excited youngsters standing up on the ride just days before Evha’s death with no staff near.
Evha, 11, died from a head injury on Tuesday when she tumbled out of a six-seater boat on the simulated river ride during a school trip. She was either struck by a boat or hit her head on the steel frames that carry the boats around at the park near Drayton Bassett, Staffs.
It is feared she may have stood up to swap seats with a classmate and lost her balance.
Vikki said: “They did nothing when Patrick fell in but he was lucky. If they had reviewed and improved the safety of the ride when I complained perhaps this little girl would still be alive.”
The mother of four, from Rugby, Warwickshire, was at the park when Patrick, then ten, and his cousins asked to go on Splash Canyon.
She said: “Patrick left his seat just slightly and turned to wave to me as I was going to take a picture.
“At that very moment the boat banged into the side of the canyon and he was tipped out head-first.
“I screamed. A lady leapt over to get to him. He was standing but struggling to get to the edge.
“He was unable to get a grip to get out. The lady got him to safety. It was terrifying.
“Had there been another boat close it could have crushed him.
“He was very lucky.”
Vikki, 46, who has three other children — Gabriel, 13, Freddie, 12 and Dominic, 20 — said she raised her safety concerns with a manager.
She added: “He said there was a constant public address system telling people they must remain seated.
“The manager’s version of events was, ‘You’re not supposed to stand on the ride, and from our CCTV it looks like your child was standing’.
Vikki said officials at the park did not take her complaint seriously. She suggested that park officials could have prevented Evha's death if they had acted on her complaint.
“I think that’s quite shoddy. Kids will stand — if they don’t want them to then get them belted in. After that I repeatedly told the company I didn’t feel the safety measures were good enough. I just wish now I had pushed them harder. If I had, maybe yesterday wouldn’t have happened. I did try, but we were passed from person to person without any action. I was shocked when I heard about that poor girl. It brings it all back to what happened to Patrick.”
A Drayton Manor spokesman said: “We cannot comment during the ongoing investigation surrounding Splash Canyon other than to say the health and safety of our visitors is of paramount importance and we’d ask Vikki to contact us direct.”
The park was closed yesterday.
Last night, there were claims staff were slow to react when Evha fell in, and that she and four pals were unsupervised in the boat with teachers in a separate one. The brother of a pupil in the boat with Evha said: “My sister said Evha stood up and looked like she was moving seats. Then she looked back and she was in the water.
“The girls shouted for the guards who didn’t believe she was in there.”
Drayton Manor remained closed today after the schoolgirl's tragic death.
Splash Canyon customers are told by announcements, signs and staff to stay in their seats and keep hold of a circular metal rail in the middle of the boats as they swerve and splash through the ride.
But a park season ticket-holder shot the footage of screaming youngsters clearly standing up on the ride last Bank Holiday Monday.
The 36-year-old dad of two, from Birmingham, said there was no intervention by staff.
The finance manager, who asked not to be named, said he had been on Splash Canyon “countless” times but says not once have all the riders remained in their seats.
He said: “It would be impossible for the park to enforce the safety advice unless you had a member of staff in each boat.
“You can clearly see what look like a couple of young kids tottering around as the boat rocks. Surely a ride like this needs lifeguards.”