Girl ‘clung to barrier’ after theme park ride fall

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Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Evha Jannath fell out of a circular boat on the Splash Canyon attraction

An 11-year-old girl who died after falling from a theme park river rapids ride was seen clinging to a barrier before she drowned, an inquest heard.

Evha Jannath was unsupervised on the Splash Canyon ride at Drayton Manor in Tamworth on a school trip in May 2017.

Safety measures on the ride were discussed three weeks before she was “propelled” from the vessel.

A witness told South Staffordshire coroner she saw Evha and her friends “being a bit silly” on the ride.

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Theresa Atkinson, who had been standing on a viewing platform with her son, told how she watched the girls “leaning over and trying to scoop water at each other”.

Image copyright ThemeParks.ie
Image caption The Splash Canyon ride has remained closed since Evha’s death

The schoolgirl from Leicester – who could not swim – fell head first from the boat after it hit a barrier while she was standing up, against the ride’s rules, the court was told.

Mrs Atkinson then saw Evha in the water holding on to the barrier and “she looked like she was panicking and I shouted to her to stay where she was”.

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She said she then tried to climb the fencing to get to her. When she was unable to do so she ran to find a member of staff, she said.

It was not until 11 minutes later Evha was spotted “face down” in the water and a further six before she was pulled out “lifeless”.

Ride operator Samuel Read said three weeks before Evha’s death, safety measures including increasing the number of CCTV display monitors and improving the legibility of safety signs on the boats telling customers to stay seated, had been discussed by park staff.

“It seems that the issue wasn’t taken forward, sadly, by the time of this incident involving Evha,” assistant coroner Margaret Jones said.

Mr Read said operators would only press an emergency stop button if they saw someone in the water themselves, otherwise they would search CCTV.

In CCTV shown to jurors on Monday, Evha was seen wading through the water before climbing an “algae-covered travelator” and falling into a 12ft-deep (3.6m) area of water.

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She was pronounced dead in hospital later that day.

The inquest continues.

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